An inquiry into Agility

Implementing agile principles isn’t easy. It needs leaders who feel secure letting go of power and trusting the team to discover where may answers lie

Founding Fuel

[Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay]

Dear friend,

While Founding Fuel has explored Agility in the past, our co-founder CS Swaminathan insisted it is urgent everyone does a deeper dive. The evidence was on his side.

Entities as diverse as music-streaming giant Spotify that youngster’s world-over swear by; to a dyed-in-the-wool European banking conglomerate ING; and many arms of governments such as Denmark that believe in public welfare—all are working off Agile principles. They seem better off for it.

On an altogether different note, I was poring over a contemporary interpretation of On Liberty by the British philosopher John Stuart Mill that was first published in 1859. Now considered the father of all liberal thought, Mill worried about what may happen to a society if individuals begin to fear that “a set of opinions is punished through peer pressure or fear of social ostracism.”

When thought about, this is how attitudes at workplaces ruled by a command-and-control structure are shaped. Everyone attempts to fall in line; those who disagree are berated. Mill thought of this as relinquishment of free will and argued this is toxic in the longer run for a few reasons:

  1. Someone’s controversial idea today may turn out to be right tomorrow.
  2. Even if our opinion is correct, it must be weighed against a counter opinion.
  3. Opposing views may each contain parts of the truth. So, they must be combined.
  4. To practice these, Mill posits, “…our identity as a person must be kept separable from ideas we endorse at a given time.”

Implementing these principles isn’t easy because it needs leaders who feel secure letting go of power and trusting the team to discover where may answers lie. The process is an iterative one. Management thinkers such as Baba Prasad, the author of Nimble and president of the Vivekin Group describe this as an Agile practice.

Poring over the literature and case studies in Agility were eye-openers. Some of the literature is shared in the links below. Our curiosity piqued, each of us knocked at the doors of those in India who practice Agility.

In the weeks to come, we intend to make public our conversations with thought leaders and practitioners in the domain. We hope it triggers conversations and learnings in the larger Founding Fuel community.

If any stories come to mind or thoughts occur on how best to share all of this with the extended family, we’d love to connect with you.

My very best,

Charles Assisi

For Team Founding Fuel

Featured Stories

Not AI alone but AI + ethics

AI systems may be making important decisions that will fundamentally affect the lives of Indians. For AI to be truly transformative though, its ethical biases need to be rooted out. (By N Dayasindhu. Read Time: 8 mins)

‘The power of coaching is to offer a different perspective’

(Book summary) While trained as a football coach, Bill Campbell’s reputation precedes him in Silicon Valley. CEOs of entities such as Apple, Google and Facebook are among those who have sought his advice. Google’s Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle share what they learnt from their mentor in their book Trillion Dollar Coach. (By D Shivakumar. Read Time: 6 mins)

Agility: What We Are Reading And Watching

Scrum: How to do twice as much in half the time

Jeff Sutherland, a former US Air Force “Top Gun” and expert on organisational management on how to be agile in business.

A pretty good summary of Lean, Agile, Scrum

Think of this as an Agile for Dummies if you will. This 12-minute-long read offers perspective on the differences between how most businesses operate, what Agility entails, the upsides, the downsides, and what mindset it takes.

From Our Archives

Strategic Agility: Making a flexible plan for an uncertain future

(Podcast) Baba Prasad, president and CEO of Vivékin Group, talks about how to create a long-term plan when you don't know the long term.

Speed with stability: How to embed agility in your firm

[Photograph by PublicDomainImages under Creative Commons]

How to be agile while maintaining long-term direction, just like a flock of birds can dynamically swoop and turn, while staying on course.

How to succeed in turbulent worlds

[Photograph by Eckhard Pecher under Creative Commons]

As the world gets increasingly turbulent, 7 lessons for organisations and leaders on how to cope.

Was this article useful? Sign up for our daily newsletter below


Login to comment

About the author

Founding Fuel

Founding Fuel aims to create the new playbook of entrepreneurship. Think of us as a hub for entrepreneurs- the go-to place for ideas, insights, practices and wisdom essential to build the enterprise of tomorrow. It is co-founded by veteran journalists Indrajit Gupta and Charles Assisi, along with CS Swaminathan, the former president of Pearson's online learning venture.

Also by me

You might also like