Agility: A Path to Intention, Focus, and Discipline

drawing of an agile cardwall


In my last post I talked about becoming more intentional, focused and disciplined in a changing world, and how principles of agility can empower us to become so.


But what is agility? And how does it enable us to become more intentional, focused and disciplined?


At a high level agility is simply a set of artifacts (things) and ceremonies (events) in the form of a framework that changes our approach to what we do. These artifacts and ceremonies are an expression of a set of values and principles we hold to be true, as outlined in the Agile Manifesto. We complement these artifacts and ceremonies with focus on things like transparency; high-bandwidth communication; rich dialogue; commitment; accountability; frequent inspection, reflection, and adaptation, whole team, making relevant things big and visible, etc…


 “A good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed  at some indefinite point in the future.” – General George Patton Jr.


We use these to not only become more intentional, focused and disciplined but also to build healthier human systems vs. functional groupings of ‘resource boxes’ on an org chart. We do this in response to an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous reality for most of us, as I outlined here.  We support this with empirical evidence (facts) as we relentlessly do the right things right.


“Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.” – Ranger wisdom

 Its history…


The concept of ‘agile’ has many roots in complexity science, systems theory and lean manufacturing. It took the formal name in early 2001 when a group of software development heretics met at a resort in Utah to discuss why the majority of software development initiatives fail, and often miserably. They emerged with the Agile Manifesto.


“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Eisenhower


While the original discussion was focused on software development, I believe the principles we value are equally applicable to non-software development activities. In fact I’ve helped non-technical teams, families (mine included), individuals, and even non-profit organizations apply them with great success.


Its current state…


Today, agile approaches and methods are employed to one degree or another by roughly two-thirds of for-profit organizations. Gartner recently listed them as one of ten key technology trends of 2015.



Getting started is easy and in the near future I’ll be publishing a free e-book outlining my approach that I’ve used successfully with teams and organizations, including my own family.


“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” – W.E. Deming 


Image: Shutterstock/Hurca


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