I was exploring the nature of enterprise agility to answer a client question, and I came across BrianMac’s web site. Brian Mackenzie is a performance coach and coach tutor/assessor with UK Athletics. It struck me that his description of agility and we can improve our personal athletical agility had parallels in enterprise transformation.
To paraphrase BrianMac, agility is “the ability to change the direction of an enterprise in an efficient and effective mannner”. Brian says that to achieve this you require a combination of balance, speed, strength and coordination. For enterprise transformation, these four components mean:
- Balance – the ability to keep demand and supply in equilibrium across the day-to-day activities and operations of the enterprise, and to maintain optimum proportions in the key ratios that measure governance of the enterprise. Balance becomes more difficult when the enterprise is engaged in transformational change.
- Speed – the ability of the enterprise to quickly respond to demands, events, rules or other triggers.
- Strength – the capacity or capability of an enterprise to overcome internal and external constraints, limitations or resistance in pursuit of its goals and objectives.
- Coordination – the ability to control and manage behaviour, structures and change in the enterprise, in cooperation with the various demands, obligations or desires placed on the enterprise.
Brian also talks about improving personal agility by improving these four components of agility and improving them in training, using “agility ladder programs”. The main objective is “to promote a wide range of different foot and movement patterns”.
Again – applying this to the enterprise world – this is not radically different from the architectural notion of Enterprise Patterns. These are key patterns that are either already embedded in an Enterprise, or patterns that are required within the Enterprise to enable it to respond to the various demands, obligations or desires placed upon it.
The words used in athletics are slightly different than the ones that we use in enterprise, but conceptually we are all talking about the same things – agility (balance + speed + strength + coordination), and patterns.