Agile Business vs. Agile In The​ Business

by John Orvos

Is an agile business the same as adopting agile practices within the business?

In the various agile conferences with a gathering of agile thought leaders and consultants, it has become clear that there is confusion about what and agile business (or business agility) means. Many of the agile business so-called success stories are being told based on practicing agile "within" a particular business unit, such as HR, marketing, compliance, and so on. Their claim of success centers around practicing agile ceremonies within these departments to better run their workflow. As a result, they improve their productivity, morale, teamwork, and transparency to better manage their work within their respective departments. That’s great for the department, but it’s not business agility. Instead, this is the definition of implementing agile within the business.

Becoming an agile business is far different than implementing agile "within" the business. An agile business connects everything back to developing software products that customers value. So, all activities are in sync with the common goal to develop and deploy the most valuable product. Business agility is focused on improving the company’s ability to sense and respond to changes in the marketplace. Therefore, business activities are connected to building products that provide value to the customer. An emerging mistake is getting the terms confused with agile within the business. Agile within the business refers to when there is the adoption of agile practices in the business without any connection to building software products.

Although a noble cause, agile within the business is not the same because it has nothing to do with helping the company deliver customer valued products to compete in the marketplace. An agile business has the single mission to help the company sense and respond to change in order to compete by delivering high-value software products. Therefore, an agile business, or business agility, is different from practicing agile within the business.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn in September 2018, and the author's website with more content can be found here

About the Author

John Orvos brings techniques from over 20 years of experience as a business consultant, Agile practice leader, and award-winning agile strategist, John has led transformations alongside hundreds of agile consultants dealing with adopting and scaling Agile in Fortune 500 organization. Over the past two years, John has been asked by these customers how to accomplish even more ambitious goals—an agile business—in order for them to better compete against smaller digital disruptor competitors. John provides a fresh business-oriented perspective on how to enable an entire large organization to pivot, not just be agile in IT.

This article was contributed by John Orvos, author of Achieving Business Agility.