Agility is first a metaphor for adaptability and as we have mostly discussed in the past, software development. This is nicely illustrated by the anecdote about the choice of the name “Agile” as the title of the Agile Manifesto: the first choice was “adaptive software development”, but it was unfortunately the name of the consulting firm of one of the authors -. and the others wouldn’t give him that much of a head start. So the name “Agile” was born.
The huge change power of agile only became apparent over time. As the scope expanded and today, structural and cultural issues of organizational design are taking center stage. To pick up on just a few of the goals that are in the process of becoming consensus:
- Work must be fun again
- Knowledge work is different from industrial work
- Agility creates a win-win situation
- Sustainability is becoming an increasingly central business objective, even as the world spins faster and faster.
If you listen around the edges of the “agile sphere”, you’ll come across new impulses that pick up on the themes we’ve been driving too. My colleague Sabine Canditt recently drew my attention to an initiative I was not yet aware of: the US Business Round Table, a group of CEOs from large companies in the USA.
This roundtable has developed a more sustainable view of the purpose of organizations and emphasizes a more comprehensive view of several different stakeholders.
This deviates in particular from the strict view of the 1990s (“shareholder value”).
Yes, of course, these CEOs are no angels and by European standards there is much to criticize. But I’m not interested in the glass being half empty, I’m interested in something happening – and what I see are more long-term trends than the Trumps coming and going these days.
What does the Business Round Table actually write
While each of our individual businesses serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders. We commit ourselves to this:
- To provide added value to our customers. We will promote the tradition of American companies leading the way in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
- Investing in our people. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. This includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We promote diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.
- We deal fairly and ethically with our suppliers. We strive to serve as good partners to the other businesses, large and small, that help us accomplish our missions.
- We support the communities in which we work. We respect the people in our communities and protect the environment by adopting sustainable practices throughout our businesses.
- We create long-term value for our shareholders, who provide the capital that enables companies to invest, grow and innovate. We are committed to transparency and effective engagement with shareholders.
Each of our stakeholders is essential. We are committed to creating value for all of them, for the future success of our businesses, our communities and our country.
What’s in it for us agilists? They are points of reference for the values and goals we pursue.
My question to you would be: what other initiatives of this kind are there? It would be nice if we could connect more of these dots, initiate conversations between new and old initiatives, and come to a more comprehensive view and new synergies.