The Idea Dude


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Agile Management

Some of my recent consulting engagements have emphasized a basic philosophy of mine, the need for agile management. What does that mean? Well, since the 80's and 90's I've been a student of business, by that I mean I've read almost every business bestseller in preparation of leading my own army of software warriors one day. I've searched for excellence with Tom Peters, led the revolution with Gary Hamel, suffered from the innovator's dilemma with Clayton Christensen and took teams from good to great with Jim Collins. Each business philosophy was inspiring and compelling, yet if it was that simple then why do so many companies still fail?

My answer is that each of these great writers found examples that fit the curve, but in reality both time and markets are fickle making some of these principles more important in some contexts than others. There lies the rub... My take is that to be successful means being continually agile. The story is told of an old monk who could not be beaten by any of his students. When asked the question as to the source of his stability and rock solid defence, his reply was that he was actually constantly trying to regain his balance as opposed to try and be steadfast in any one position.

For today's technology businesses to succeed, you need a good dose of luck but also an acute sense of which assumptions you made no longer apply. There is no secret formula but your success is predicated by your the ability to match your business and team to the prevailing winds of change. You have to spend every waking moment testing to see if your business is as relevant today as it was yesterday and then whether you have the right team to execute on your strategy. Note, this doesn't mean you have to keep second guessing yourself, hopefully your strategy remains true over the long term but the tactics need continuous tweaking and tuning. One must be ever vigilant and sensitive to whether you need to be making adjustments and then have the courage to make them. In short, in today's Web 2.0 and world beyond, agility is the key.

The winners are those people who can match the business and people to the context of space (marketplace) and time (relevance and need).


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