Agile is everything that empowers organizational ability. Not so much as in "company." Or in plain English: We still use mental models of organizations in the form of companies with certain rule sets and (reporting) structure. Let go of that, define (human) capabilities + means as the smalles part which execute (partly) process.
Iterative, incremental, visible, transparent. We're building to desired functionality, not a budget or date, and we throw it over the fence when the product owner says "that has enough functional business value for me to pull the trigger."
The majority of changes are done in the following way:
Business to IT: We would like you implement this new improvement, please.
IT to business: We have anticipated it and it is already implemented and deployed but not activated yet. Please use this control to activate/deactivate it in accordance with your needs.
Related to IT support for business...... Disillusioned, frustrated but hopeful it must surely get better....?.
I see what you did there. You put a business question in a assumed-technical forum...
Market changes come from two things, technology changes and preference changes. Even competitive & entrant forces fit into those categories.
So, a company needs to see things as early as possible. Have the reserves to plan & prepare to change themselves soon enough and the freedom and ability to execute in time on those changes. it may be adopting new technology. It may be changing to the market preferences.
Two examples are Cloud and Mobile. Cloud technology is enabling fast changes. Mobile is a preference change for customers and employees.
Bringing it back to a process perspective, it may not be about changing the process flow at all.
Today, it is more about exposing processes to Mobile users & through APIs! Perhaps, using partner services instead of internal ones in the process?
I would define it as a company that can swap out systems and apps whenever they please to enable higher productivity for everyone. In addition, due to this hot swapping, they are able to change and respond to market needs and plug into new needs as needed - without needing a consultant or IT army.
Another very important aspect of an agile company is that their tools are incredibly simple for everyone to understand, use and get value out of.
As a next-generation company, I would define an agile company as digital-native from day 1. Everything would work on phones (to work on the move), in the cloud (to scale) and maintenance-free (eliminating back-office costs).
We wrote a post about this (in references) on this post - see the McKinsey post too.
An agile company is one that can rapidly respond to threats and rapidly capitalize on new opportunities...
The agility of a company's systems play a huge role in making business agility possible, so there's likely a strong correlation between the architecture of their systems, and their processes for updating those systems, and their true business agility.
To me, an agile company is the one that takes any decisions fast.
For that to happen, its decision support assets (rules, processes, data) must be:
1/ explicitly architected;
2/ instantly available;
3/ immediately and transparently editable.
Good, and worthwhile, I suspect, to point out that decision-making is the process of converting information into action (Russell Ackoff?); that knowledge is a precursor to information and, from Donald Rumsfeld, that there are four categories of information (i.e. known knowns, known unknowns, unknown knowns and unknown unknowns).
Rumsfeld actually only spoke about three of these, I recall reading an article by the person who added the 4th.
What is an "agile company"? A few possible answers:
1) A CHARACTERISTIC OF GOOD ENTERPRISE GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT: Agile defines the capability of adapting effectively to change. This might be especially important now that rates of change are higher now (although this perception is exaggerated). (Consider "adaptation" as goal and "agile" as method.)
2) AN UNTHINKING GOAL OF MANAGEMENT: The "idea of agile" is also a construct in current managerial and technical discourse, to the point of "fetishization".
3) A POSSIBLE ROAD TO OBLIVION: Agility is too often the mask of opportunism. Organizational evolution should be a guided journey and a successful journey is built on confidence in enterprise identity. Lacking a foundation in identity though, change becomes opportunism. And opportunism, in turn, becomes a random walk.
Corporate strategy as random walk is highly correlated to evolutionary disaster.
"We need to adapt" is a common justification for a programme of agility.
And adaptability is good! But for whom?
Certainly adaptability describes successful populations of rapidly evolving actors (think insect swarms). What corporate leaders in love with adaptability forget however is that adaptation, while great for the population, is often bad for individuals. Individual actors get selected out if random changes prove unsuitable. You might win. Or you might lose. The death rate of Fortune 1000 companies may be in part explained by this.
Opportunism doesn't work well for individual actors. And if agile is only opportunism in disguise, an ideology of change that ignores domain knowledge and identity, agile is therefore no blessing.
Here's a quote I've shared previously:
Simple and said in before posts- An agile company can shift quickly like a chameleon and make money. This topic is a year long course if not a long term businessin its self, and I would argue that the whole agile topic needs to morph to a company topic not a technology design/development discussion. The des/dev can't be affective unless the whole culture of the organization and its business capability is agile. Sure, people can develop projects in agile fashion successfully but the real success is bigger than that. Organizations have to shift quickly today andmorph and technology is only one component. How about change management? talk about something that is absolutely struggling as a discipline and another piece of the bigger puzzle......a whole other can of worms.............
Quick moving, adaptable and strong firm fit for fast reaction to unforeseen difficulties, occasions, and openings. Based on strategies and procedures that encourage speed and change, it means to accomplish persistent upper hand in serving its clients. Spry ventures utilize diffused power and level hierarchical structure to accelerate data streams among various offices, and grow close, trust-based associations with their clients and providers.