Daryl Plummer‘s Tuesday keynote, “How Do You Measure and Justify Business Agility” made a few good points about the completely over-hyped notion of business agility:
- Agility is a legitimate management practice. If you don’t have people focussed on agility, it’s unlikely to just happen by accident.
- Agility is as important, or more important, than planning in order to be able to react to the unexpected. Remember “Built To Last“? That’s so last year; now it’s “Built To Change.”
- Agility and speed are not synonymous. You can very quickly create another legacy environment (and probably already have).
My only major disagreement with what he said is that I see agility as a characteristic that can be measured at any point in an organization’s life, not an end goal to which an organization aspires. He also introduces the Agility Quotient, which is “…calculated by measuring the things that inhibit agility and examining how willing you are to overcome them”, which ultimately strikes me as a new age-y business measurement that does more to increase Gartner’s consulting revenues than their customers’ agility.
He finishes up with some comments on some of the technological components and ideas critical to business agility: decoupled business components related through event passing (“beyond SOA”), mobile access, identity management, and how to bring some of these things together. Although he’s not explicit about it, he seems to indicate that business agility isn’t a problem for the business so much as it is for the IT groups that support them, which is certainly something that I’ve seen playing out in practice.