Vision & Values of Business Agility

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  • 0:00 Agile Language & Values
  • 0:30 The Values of Agile
  • 1:38 Agile Values in Practice
  • 5:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

The paradigm of business agility is rooted in a set of overarching values or principles. This lesson explores the key themes surrounding the values and principles of business agility.

Agile Language and Values

If you weren't already familiar with the concept of agile business principles, some of the vocabulary might sound mysterious or even just plain weird. Terms like 'manifesto' and 'transformation' aren't just used to attract attention. Although we don't see these words applied to business very often, they're carefully chosen because they express the values and characteristics of the agile mindset.

The Values of Agile

In the context of business, the term 'value' can actually have two distinct meanings, but when applied to the agile mindset, both definitions are applicable.

  • A value is a principle or precept upon which someone builds a framework regarding the patterns of thought and behavior that one finds desirable. For example, most people practice the value of honesty because telling the truth is morally right.
  • A value is a bargain or mutually-agreeable exchange. For instance, people believe that they have realized value when they pay less money than anticipated for a product or service.

Both definitions apply to agile business principles. In the moral domain, agile values include a strong customer focus, exceptional interpersonal communication, and the use of high-performance teams. But why would a business want to transform itself using agile principles? The answer is value. Agile provides value to organizations because, when properly implemented, it offers a good return on investment.

Agile Values in Practice

The full Agile Manifesto, which is a comprehensive outline of the principles of business agility, is beyond the scope of this lesson, but we can use an example to demonstrate the values of business agility in action.

Value #1: Effective Interpersonal Interaction

To illustrate some of the agile values relating to people, let's consider a fictional company that's developing a new, tablet-based grading system for high-school teachers. XYZ Education Solutions' first step in the process was identifying the gap that created a need for XYZ's product. In this step, XYZ demonstrated their commitment to the agile value of a customer-centered approach.

Specifically, XYZ carefully avoided making presumptions about what the customer was expecting. Instead of spending time planning and developing a product that might not meet the needs of teachers, XYZ shadowed teachers, interviewed administrators, and attended school board meetings. This agile value of 'customer-first' helps XYZ understand the customer pains that their product must solve.

Value #2: Effective Collaboration

After XYZ demonstrated the agile value of customer-centered personal interactions, there was an opportunity to demonstrate two additional values of business agility. Collaboration is the agile value that both empowers design teams and the customer to work together in pursuit of an outcome (another value of business agility) that delights the customer and provides value to the vendor.

Collaboration is an essential value because it's the only way to provide a customer exactly what they want precisely when they want it. By definition, agility is the ability to adapt quickly and effectively. Collaboration allows an organization to free itself from the waste and drag of trying to guess what the customer wants by going to the source itself and developing a perfect solution.

Value #3: Outcomes Matter

The principles of business agility establish that success will be measured by the presence (or absence) of working software. Working software would be an example of an outcome.

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