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The Agility Philosophy: Understanding Winning Ways Clayton Long ISP IT Management Consultant Corvelle Management Consultants.

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Presentation on theme: "The Agility Philosophy: Understanding Winning Ways Clayton Long ISP IT Management Consultant Corvelle Management Consultants."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Agility Philosophy: Understanding Winning Ways Clayton Long ISP IT Management Consultant Corvelle Management Consultants

2 2 Learning Objectives  Articulate the components of an agile organization and IT Dept  Identify the traits of an agile organization and IT Dept

3 3 Clay’s Background  Been in Business for 26 years 18 years in Information Technology  From field to the boardroom originally Power Systems Electrician began IT in 1984 Management Systems Analyst  Consulted with DMR - Senior Project Manager  Director of IT at ENMAX  Senior Management Consultant - Corvelle

4 4 Pace of Change  Pace of change continues to move faster, less time to react to change  Organizations able to react and adapt to change quickly will be the most successful  Being agile helps organizations respond to changes more quickly

5 5 Changes Impacting Business  Market fragmentation  Competition pressures  Corporate reorganization frenzy  Industry/regulatory environment churn  Technology evolution  Shrinking product lifetimes  Information capacity to treat masses of customers as individuals

6 6 Problem - Solution If turbulence and turmoil define the problem, then agility is key to the solution.

7 7 Definition of Agile  Marked by ready ability to move with quick easy grace  Mentally quick and resourceful Source - Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

8 8 Agility in Business The ability to both create and respond to change in order to profit in a turbulent business environment. The ability to rapidly change direction and to shift focus and resources from areas of low return to areas of high return.

9 9 Agile Company For a company, to be agile is to be capable of operating profitably in a competitive environment of continually, and unpredictably, changing business opportunities.

10 10 Agile Individual For an individual, to be agile is to be capable of contributing to the bottom line of a company that is constantly reorganizing its human and technological resources in response to unpredictably changing business opportunities.

11 11 Is Agility More Than Just Architecture?  Perception is that agility comes from technology architecture  Corporate culture & attitude has an enormous impact on a company’s agility

12 12 CIO’s On Agile IT Depts  Constant whitewater requires just-in-time program development & rapid application of resources to emerging problems & opportunities  Greater centralization vs. greater decentralization & delegation  Ever-exquisite responsiveness to business needs  Inspire & enable greater business-unit agility

13 13 Observations of CIO’s Opinions  Seems to mean something different to everyone  No “Six Sigma Agility” black belts yet  Same word means different things to different people confusion invariably dominates the discussion.  One CIO’s “agility” is another CIO’s “workaround”

14 14 First & Final Analysis  Agility is about timely & cost-effective implementation  Agility means action implies both the capacity & capability to act doesn’t mean it has to instantaneously act or react — only that it has the power to do so

15 15 Characteristics of Agility  Creating & responding to change  Nimbleness & improvisation  Conformance to actual  Balancing structure & flexibility

16 16 Creating & Responding To Change  Change that causes intense pressure on competitors  Respond quickly & effectively to both anticipated & unanticipated changes in the business environment having resources, skills, knowledge, architecture & culture in place to respond to changing business needs

17 17 Nimbleness & Improvisation  Quickness, lightness, & nimbleness act rapidly do the minimum necessary to get a job done adapt to changing conditions  Innovation & creativity envision new products new ways of doing business  Agility requires discipline & skill

18 18 Conformance To Actual  Control focuses on boundaries & principals rather than prescriptive, detailed procedures & processes rigid methodology vs. agile methodology  Not controlled so much by conformance to plan but by conformance to business value plans are useful as guides, but not as control mechanisms

19 19 Balancing Structure & Flexibility  To anticipate or to depend on resilience and responsiveness if the anticipation & planning is too prescriptive, it leaves no room for agility without some anticipation & planning, agility can become rudderless reaction  Being agile generally means trusting in one’s ability to respond more than trusting in one’s ability to plan

20 20 Risks & Benefits

21 21 1 st Trait of Agile Organization  Focus on problems which require an exploratory approach due to uncertainty as uncertainty increases, the probability an agile approach will succeed increases dramatically agile organizations improve the odds, but they don’t guarantee success

22 22 2 nd Trait of Agile Organization  Are intensely customer driven for an IT Dept, the business typically is the customer  Advocate putting the customer in control business driven IT

23 23 3 rd Trait of Agile Organization  Focus on people individual skills collaboration, conversations, & communications that enhance flexibility & innovation physical environment & culture of IT Dept impacts opens, i.e., hallway conversations

24 24 4 th Trait of Agile Organization  Are not about a laundry list of things that organizations should do are about the practical things an IT Dept actually needs to do IT methodology can enhance or hamper an IT Dept’s agility ERP’s are typically are about strong structure, process & rigidity – not very agile

25 25 5 th Trait of Agile Organization  Agile organizations may be inefficient part of the cost of agility is mistakes, which are caused by having to make decisions in an environment of uncertainty business and IT Dept must be accepting of a certain amount of mistakes may take several attempts to get it right

26 26 Exercise What would an agile IT Department look like in terms of: culture organizational structure architecture & Technology methodology resources Rationalize each of your options/solutions Present findings to class

27 27 Support for Agile IT  IT working closely with business  Training of IT staff to gain knowledge & skills  Methodologies to instil discipline but not bureaucracy  Budgeting for agility  Agile technology architecture  IT Vendor providing agile support

28 28 Some Thoughts to Remember  Agile organizations are not just about architecture, it’s about people  Agile does not mean ad-hoc, it’s about working within a defined set of boundaries and rules  Agile is being an ‘explorer’ who seeks out innovative ways to achieve an end knowing their strengths, weaknesses and limits

29 29 Agile IT for Agile Business  Everyone in IT has to understand the business inside and out  Agility has to be the mantra of the company at large  IT department must foster flexibility and responsiveness across all disciplines

30 30 Does Agility Work in All Situations?  Works best in a fast changing environment and/or an environment of uncertainty  Culture of an organization must be accepting of an agile approach accepting of risk accepting of mistakes focused on business value, not the process of control

31 31 In Summary Agile IT and organizations are focused on people and their ability to respond. Is being agile a ‘flash in the pan’ or is it something here to stay? In the Right Situations!!! Right environment, right people, right resources, it is a viable approach.

32 32 Bibliography  “Agile Software Development Ecosystems” By Jim Highsmith  CIO Magazine (Aug 15, 2004)  “Response Ability: The Language, Structure, and Culture of the Agile Enterprise” By Rick Dove  Manifesto for Agile Software Development -


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