Business optimization

What is the Essence of Using an Agile Approach in Running a Business?

by Andrej Lovsin
April 13, 2021 - 5 min

Agility is a concept that has come to the fore in the business world and in a way, has become a “fashionable” term for very different types of business practices and for organizations that describe their activity as agile. Depending on the breadth of the concept, agility can be interpreted in different ways. Even in the business world, everyone understands it somewhat in their way. Given my many years of experience with agility and applying these principles in both business and private life, I would like to present my views and point out some misconceptions that arise in connection with the concept of agility. I will focus on agility from the perspective of the company’s business practice rather than explaining the roles in the SCRUM model.

Agility does NOT mean that we are constantly changing our goal

It often happens that agility in the business world is explained and equated with flexibility, pivoting, changing goals and constant, almost limitless adaptation to the market, clients, working conditions, etc. While some of these principles apply, it is crucial to keep in mind that agility does not mean constantly changing or changing goals. I would say that the opposite is true – agility follows the goal while taking into account changing circumstances and successfully, quickly and agilely adapts the path to this goal.

There is no recipe for agility

From what has been written, it is probably already clear that the so-called “recipe” for how to react agilely or how to do business agilely does not exist. Let’s look at a concrete example, which will probably make it possible to understand and understand the most important elements of the agile approach more clearly. 

Let’s say we have a group of people who are given the task of getting as far as possible from the starting point in 24 hours just with the help of a map and compass, without spending any of their own money. The winner is the one who travels as far as possible during this period with the help of his ingenuity and skills. 

How to use agility in everyday situations?

How to tackle the above challenge? Different people would probably approach the competition in different ways. Some would first delve into the map to choose the desired direction of travel; others would like to make the most of the time and would immediately embark on a race. From the agility perspective, it makes sense to look at the map first and get some general information. Otherwise, after a few kilometres, we can be stopped, for example, by a river or some other obstacle.

What do changed circumstances mean in agility?

First of all, it is necessary to be aware that in a given case, we have a clear goal that will not change throughout the time: to get as far as possible from the starting point. However, it is the participants’ responsibility to shape their strategy, be inventive, and find ways to achieve this goal. Once a person decides which direction to go, many different situations can happen along the way. Let’s say after a few hours of walking through the city, a person finds money on the sidewalk. This change also allows her to adjust and upgrade her strategy. Now, for example, the person has the option of sitting on a train and getting as far as possible or perhaps choosing a bus, subway, taxi, or some other way of transport. The decision is entirely left to her discretion and will also have certain consequences.

Once we make a decision, we follow it

Let’s say a person decides to buy a train ticket with money, as he estimates that it will get him the furthermost. Once he heads to the station and already gets to the box office to buy a ticket, it’s crucial that he follows his idea to the end. This is not the right time for a person to start thinking about whether they would buy a bus ticket because it may be cheaper. In agility and otherwise, it is essential that we make certain decisions to the end and only afterwards analyze and consider if it would be better to take another approach next time. 

I see one of the biggest dangers of the agile approach here. People often interpret it as an approach where changing strategy is even welcome, which can quickly lead to them changing direction too fast, not persevering to the end, and giving up as soon as it becomes difficult.

Namely, the decision can be changed and the second time the task can be carried out differently only when it is done, tested and analyzed because only then do we get a comprehensive insight into what can be changed and improved. 

Going back to the beginning, it is therefore crucial to know that agility is effective only when the goal remains clear and anchored. We take advantage of our givens, circumstances, experiences and changing factors, and we don’t follow some predetermined steps rigidly. Still, we can respond faster, adjust direction, make a detour more and get successfully and more efficiently to where we were headed in the beginning.

At we use an agile approach at all levels of business and we also help our clients to realize the exceptional advantages of this way of cooperation. At the same time, we are making sure that the goal is always clear and the path to this goal is as optimal as possible.