Agile approach is not the only way to design flexibility and speed into your operating model, particularly given the challenges and pitfalls associated with trying to implement Agile. Agile started as a way of working in the software development industry based on rapid development cycles, its good enough, and fix it in the next cycle mentality.
Now Agile is the newest buzz word, end-all, be-all management solutions. Agile zealots profess an all-in approach to it. We have seen this 10’s of times before… recall the onset of Quality in the 80’s, or maybe the mystery of finding the “core competence” of a business in the 90’s, or perhaps Lean in the 2000’s… Agile was never intended to be the basis of an entire operating model. But like the management interventions of Quality, Six-Sigma, and Lean, embedding agile into the work environment requires pragmatic systemic changes as it has significant impacts on management roles, power and decision making, governance and entire structures.
Putting agile into traditional waterfall work environments is a collision waiting to happen fraught with challenges, risks, and trade-offs. And, the motivation to work in an agile environment is compounded by the fact that the younger workforce is enamored with it because it brings less bureaucracy, greater empowerment and focuses on getting things done – all honorable reasons. But there is more than one “road to Rome” as the saying goes – or, you can design flexibility and speed into your operating model without being Agile.