Agile in a Business Sense


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Radical management is a fundamentally different approach to management, with seven inter-locking principles of continuous innovation. Steve Denning author of The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century discussed this in a podcast with me. Below is an excerpt from the podcast.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Leadership using Agile Methods

Joe:  When I first read the book, having a little bit of background in Agile… I looked at it, and think; they’re explaining Agile in a business sense to me. On the other hand, it goes little deeper than that because it reflects, it takes a tour…

Stephen:  This is not something esoteric; it’s not something with strange new vocabulary. It’s something that’s really distilled common sense that has a firm delighting its customer. I mean, why wouldn’t you want that? They have teams of people who are authorized and they’re powered to make that happen but why wouldn’t you want that? And have managers removing impairment? Why wouldn’t you want that? Why wouldn’t you check whether this is, you’re accomplishing that. In that sense I mean, I have tried to translate this into simple language and to business terms and in terms that everyone can make sense and give examples of how it’s happening. Join the dots and show that the deeper meaning of what Agile is all about.

We take Agile to the next level. I mean, look, Agile manifesto 2001 was a wonderful, wonderful advancement, what it had done before. But 10 years have passed since then and we have, in fact, learned to grade the elements. The book has some elements to the Agile manifesto, particularly, in terms of the goals, in terms of delighting clients. That’s an important aspect which isn’t really brought out in the manifesto and also getting the folks in work in the sense. Working software makes sense in software development but doesn’t make all that much sense in general business in terms.

So translating those things into business terms and then showing the meaning of it. What is the meaning of running an organization and how does it compare to running an organization in the traditional way? To some extent, the literature in Agile, it’s kind of assumed that there traditional management will grind along in the rest of the organization. This is really about, saying well, actually no. We need the rest of the organization to get with the program and to start thinking and speaking and acting in this different way.

Joe:  Well, I think you said it very well. I think you go back to Waterfall project management, that’s how our organizations are ran. You go from department to department to get things done. In the ’80s and ’90s you always had that internal customer who you were always trying to please. What you’re saying with iterations and self-organizing teams we’re putting the customers in the boardroom, we’re putting the customer in the factory, and really relating directly to them, which is what it’s all about.

Stephen:  Exactly. The customer is the boss. That’s the bottom line. It’s a very different way of thinking about work and organizations and how the world should be run.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Leadership using Agile Methods

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Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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