The entrepreneur and social scientist takes issue with the overused word “agile” — even though, she says, we need it.
“Agile” has been bandied about until we’re thoroughly sick of the word — but without really knowing what it means. Agile is a methodology that’s extremely helpful when dealing with unknown outcomes where we want to check that we’re not wasting time, money and resources committed to projects or strategies that don’t create value. It’s used in software development when we’re unsure about what users want and what works. It is an iterative approach.
The mantra of agile is: “build, measure, learn” then rinse and repeat, regularly. Because we are broadly dealing with uncertainty, the “build, measure, learn” methodology is apt. After all, it’s learning that accelerates or hinders the ability to respond.
I think of agility as adaptability, or the capacity to learn quickly.
Rapidly changing and growing businesses are adaptive organisations. They are vigilant about external conditions. It means — thank you, Charles Darwin — that we are able to respond and react to the environment faster than our predators (competitors). This is essential when you have customers, because you need to provide experiences that are responsive and make real-time decisions at the coalface (or client face).
I think of agility as adaptability, or the capacity to learn quickly, move fast, stay close to your customers and keep ahead of your competitors.
It’s more than a project or risk concept. Conditions that hinder your response place you at a disadvantage.
How do your organisational mindset, structures and reporting prevent a rapid response?
I’m reading... Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Harper 2011) and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (Penguin Random House 2017), both by Yuval Noah Harari. The historical perspective helps us to understand, reflect and learn. It is about our unique ability as sapiens to create powerful and enduring narratives that bring us together and also separate us.
My favourite app is... Trello, easy shared-project and task management. Its simplicity and versatility make it our go-to organising tool.
I’m excited about... the idea that science cannot stand alone. We need philosophers, ethicists, historians, social scientists, creatives and anthropologists to bring us into the dialogue of how we deal with the what of science and technology. Plus, Australia’s very own space agency.
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