Hi, welcome to this lesson where we address the criticism that making agile work would depend on the framework.

What content is covered in this lesson?

We’ll talk about 2 arguments in the next few minutes:

  1. That agility would only be possible in a libertarian society like in the USA, and
  2. that agility, if at all, would only be applicable in software development.

Criticism is always good because it stimulates reflection and thus makes innovation possible in the first place.

First of all, about the arguments:

Argument No. 1

Is agility feasible in our society?

The Big 5 – global role models of agility – are all located in the U.S., a country with comparatively libertarian attitudes in society and little government intervention in business.

Yes, there are different framework conditions.

For example, in countries with less restrictive employee protection regulations, project team members can be looped in and out more quickly and easily – just as needed. This flexibility exists in society, partly because the labor and project market is very flexible. A short-term leave of absence is usually matched by a short-term reemployment. Such countries also have a much higher proportion of self-employed workers (e.g., freelancers) than countries with higher worker protection. Google, for example, has about as many permanent employees as temporary workers and freelancers.

Greater independence and self-determination within the workforce also lead to greater independence vis-à-vis employers or clients. Project team members there appear more self-confident, have somewhat more entrepreneurial thinking, because as freelancers they are all small entrepreneurs themselves. Job security and contract security do play a role, but not as much as in countries where employees work for very few employers in their lifetime.

Of course, this has an impact on the way we work and therefore also on projects.

However, the business community in countries with higher levels of employee protection has developed solutions for this. In these countries with less flexibility for entrepreneurial interests, service providers ensure that required knowledge can be flexibly ordered and also released again.

Argument No. 2

Can agility only be implemented in software development?

Agility comes from software development and is difficult to implement outside of software development. For this reason, agile organizational models should be limited to IT departments, if at all.

Yes, agile and most agile methods originate from the software development environment.

Agility has gained acceptance in this area mainly because software solutions are highly complex, the solution approaches are rarely predictable and therefore cannot be planned.

But Toyota developed an agile solution for manufacturing in industrial companies as early as 1947 with the Kanban method and made the company a role model in the automotive industry thanks to the efficiency and quality advantage it achieved. Since then, more and more industrial companies have been following this method and extending the principles to other areas of the company, such as development.

Personally, I consider agile islands in companies to be problematic and will also discuss this in more detail in the course of this course.

In addition, agility is being introduced more and more in product development and the design departments, precisely because this is where the time lag to current customer needs arises – development cycles that are too long oversleep market needs and thus no longer allow any real innovations compared to agile competition. So if product development and manufacturing are already working agilely, then only administration and logistics remain to set up a company completely agilely, to establish agility as a component of a corporate culture.

The bottom line is: despite different and inhibiting framework conditions, agility basically works everywhere. Much more important than governmental framework conditions and the introduction of agility in certain areas of a company is whether the company management is prepared to live agility itself, to internalize it, and to implement this component of the corporate philosophy in the company accordingly. The globally different mentalities also have a great influence on the success of agility.

What is the alternative to Agile Transformation?

And just between you and me, what would be the alternative?

The alternative would be to maintain the status quo. Good for everyone who is doing well. Not so good for everyone who has to contend with competition that has turned agility to its advantage.

The decision whether yes or no is made by everyone himself.

Now let’s summarize what we have covered in this lesson:

  • we have recognized that agility basically works everywhere and is therefore independent of the type of company,
  • and we learned that agility was practiced in manufacturing even before the age of software development.

In the next lesson, I address the fact that there are fundamental differences in organizational requirements even within software development.

By the way, I will expand further small digressions, like this one, with feedback and discussions from the course participant environment. So, see you soon.

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