Defining Business Agility

Is business agility the same as agile “within” the business?

Reworked Agile tools and processes have become increasingly prevalent in many areas of business to help agile fulfill its promise. Many of the so-called success stories being told are based on practicing agile in a particular business unit, such as HR, Marketing, or Compliance. Their claim of success centers around practicing agile ceremonies within these departments to better run workflow. Victories are being claimed in the name of improved productivity, morale, teamwork, and transparency within their respective departments. That’s great for the department, but it’s not business agility.  At its core, business agility suggests that organizations, in order to fully realize their momentum, competence, and drive, must move, and operate as one. But In the various agile conferences and gatherings of agile thought leaders, it’s become clear that there is confusion about what business agility means.

Instead, this is the definition of implementing agile within the business. Achieving business agility 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.

In this definition, 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 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, business agility is different from agile within the business.