Enterprise Agility – Focus of 2014

There have been a number of interesting observations in this year’s Toronto Agile & Software 2014 conference.

Enterprise Agility is the hottest topic of the conference. The conference itself took an interesting approach this year by using crowd voting as a way to do session selection. A large number of votes went to sessions representing large scale enterprise topics. Six out of the final twenty-one sessions focused on this trendy topic – how to do agile in large enterprise effectively?

In addition, aside from the usual big guns like Scott Ambler on DAD, more presenters appears to be from internal employees rather than outside consultants. This is another interesting trend, and IMHO, a great trend showing the affect of agile movement is truly taking foothold in larger enterprises. It is no longer expert consultants and coaches trying to “sell” the ideas to the enterprise, but company staff actively seeking change which is always more powerful and sustainable.

Furthermore, one resounding conclusion drawn by all presenters on this topic is that agile transformation cannot be “bought” from an outside consultancy, but must be “owned” by the company. Even the consultants, e.g., Deloitte, supported this idea! This does not mean don’t hire expert consultants. On the contrary, all of them had hired help to give them a kick start, a guiding light, a set of useful tools. That is the value of consultants. However, one should not expect consultants to come in and hand you answers to all your woes, a “recipe” for successful agile transformation or even a certified large scale agile framework to be implemented by the letter. There is no such thing! Success is born from experimentation, learning from past experience, from disciplined execution by the owners of the process – YOU.

Having a consultant or coach is very valuable, because it will save you from some well known traps and start you off on a path with the highest chance of success. Once you started down that path, strategy must be formed, decisions must be made, and tools must be selected that is suitable to an organization’s unique culture and environment. I often say agile is a mindset, a philosophy, an art based on science. We have to embrace the core value of agile of inspect and adapt like so many great management gurus before us have discovered already. Only then, will we have a real chance of enjoying the fruit of success. I will sort out my other thoughts in the next few days and discuss the following topics in follow up posts.

  1. What does that mean to all those people out there still looking for help and answer on their quest to agile transformation, lost in the vast sea of enterprise IT?
  2. How to find the right coach/consultant?
  3. What to do after the consultants leave and you have taken on the ownership?

3 thoughts to “Enterprise Agility – Focus of 2014”

  1. Indeed, Patrick!

    As a reformed “big Consulting Firm guy” I was continually amazed at the number of times we’d go into a CIO’s office only for him to remark at the binders his shelf – an archive of projects past for which the strategy and execution was all in the visiting consultant’s head and all that remained was the paperwork (and bill).

    If people dislike change, they hate more things being “done to them.” Only through active participation do you get the buy-in to take the existing loose ends in a firm and tailor them to a new vision of reality. Change has to come from within.


    1. Absolutely, Martin. We all share this experience. That’s why I see this as a health and natural shift. It is also a sign that agile movement and mindset is starting to make people take notice. On the CIO side, it is kind of a dilemma. Most of the time, people want to get something for what they are paying. It is easy when you are buying a product. When it comes to consulting, clients wants to buy “answers” when in fact the most valuable thing they can buy is the right questions.


  2. Large organizations have significant challenges when managing business change. How these challenges are addressed has dramatic impact on its profitability and longevity. Enterprise Agility helps its clients address these challenges with a holistic and integrated set of services focused on enabling organizations realize sustainable competitive advantages for their products and services.

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