Agility as a management concept was thrust into our consciousness during the early days of COVID-19. Evidently, this seemed to have come about on account of the prevailing crisis and the need for people and businesses to navigate and survive the increasingly difficult terrain.
The truth however, is that Agility has been a subject of relevance even before COVID-19. The technological and digital disruptions especially with the Artificial Intelligence conundrum were major critical factors driving Agility across business domains. Of course there are other factors such as regulatory pressures, shifting consumer behavior and the challenge of incumbents by disruptors – all vehemently contributing to the Agility quest.
Personally, I have severally lent my voice to the Agility discuss across several platforms, many of which happened in the year 2019. My last Pre-COVID-19 lockdown speaking engagement being with the Nigerian IT Professionals in Canada [NIPCA] held in March 2020 – just prior to the global lockdown. So yes, Agility has been around for a bit but what really is the fuss about Agility, and why has it taken over our business conversations and psyche these days?
First, let me clarify the concepts of AGILE and Agility. Like I once shared in a LinkedIn article and as far as the business domain is concerned, both terminologies mean different things. Today and in IT – Software Development specifically, AGILE is that term that describes a set of PRACTICES, PRINCIPLES & METHODOLOGIES that govern a whole ‘new’ way of working. Notably the need to execute projects in iterations as opposed to a less effective ‘Waterfall’ approach. The set of practices is widely popular with self-directing teams and is characterized by end-user centricity/customer focus, speed to market, quick learning and decision making cycles. Agility on the other hand, refers to a mindset and an approach to work that allows for resilience, adaptability and responsiveness within a business environment. Clearly, Agility draws largely from the mindset and values driving an AGILE culture. The idea here is with businesses, seeking to draw on the many benefits embedded in AGILE methodologies. So while it is possible to apply AGILE principles without ‘doing’ AGILE, it is impossible to ‘do’ AGILE without being efficiently adaptable.
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