The six principles of an agile enterprise are adapted from the twelve Agile Manifesto principles and simplified for use. In Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he noted that principles mostly relate to human behaviour and govern interactions between people. These principles are intended to do just that and inform the work needed to help your organization transform.
1. Prioritize delivery of customer value
Agile enterprises know they need to deliver customer value. They also know that they need to do that as early and as often as they can. Agile enterprises prioritize this over anything that could hurt their ability to do so. They measure their success by setting and achieving goals focussed on delivering the goods.
2. Seek progress over perfection
It’s very rare that we get it right the first time. And, like people, organizations find better or faster ways to do the work. Seeking progress over perfection is learning what it is good enough. It’s about believing in yourself and your team’s ability. It’s knowing that perfection comes from putting it out there, learning from that, and pivoting if required.
3. Alignment and accountability through transparency
This principle typically receives the most pushback and is one of the more challenging ones to live despite its simplicity. Transparency requires vulnerability and vulnerability requires phycological safety. Agile enterprises make their goals highly visible, including who is responsible and how they’re getting it done. Nothing is hidden. Teams admit when they make a mistake, are uncertain or see risk; teams get applauded for that, not blamed. Why? Because, with transparency comes timely insight and the opportunity to rally or adjust if needed.
4. Simplify the work
Have you ever heard or felt, “It’s just so hard to get stuff done around here.”? That’s your sign that things could be simpler. Some work may still be hard but getting to it shouldn’t be. Agile enterprises find ways to suss out opportunities and implement improvements. This is a very lean concept that closely aligns with Agile and directly supports the first principle.
5. Trust people and teams to do their job
This is easier said than done. Over time, trust can erode and assumptions get made based on past performance. This principle is closely related to the third and, initially, is considered in conflict with each other. People and teams perceive the ask for more transparency as micromanagement and the opposite of trust. Agile enterprises trust their people and teams to do the right work. They adopt a mindset that distributes decision making to people closest to the problem. They believe in the power of autonomous and purpose-lead teams and trust them to do the right thing.
6. Treat everything as a learning opportunity
In Peter Senge’s book, The Fifth Discipline, he talked about personal mastery and it being the commitment by an individual to the process of learning. Agile enterprises have a culture that promotes learning, not in the traditional sense, but in everything people do. They make this happen so that the organization can rapidly adapt to its constant changing environment.
Organizations that demonstrate living these principles are agile enterprises. So, the path to becoming an agile enterprise is by learning how to live these principles. That is the hard work of transforming your organization.