An inquiry into Agility

Implementing agile principles isn’t easy. It needs leaders who feel secure letting go of power and trusting the team to discover where may answers lie

Founding Fuel

[Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay]

Dear friend,

While Founding Fuel has explored Agility in the past, our co-founder CS Swaminathan insisted it is urgent everyone does a deeper dive. The evidence was on his side.

Entities as diverse as music-streaming giant Spotify that youngster’s world-over swear by; to a dyed-in-the-wool European banking conglomerate ING; and many arms of governments such as Denmark that believe in public welfare—all are working off Agile principles. They seem better off for it.

On an altogether different note, I was poring over a contemporary interpretation of On Liberty by the British philosopher John Stuart Mill that was first published in 1859. Now considered the father of all liberal thought, Mill worried about what may happen to a society if individuals begin to fear that “a set of opinions is punished through peer pressure or fear of social ostracism.”

When thought about, this is how attitudes at workplaces ruled by a command-and-control structure are shaped. Everyone attempts to fall in line; those who disagree are berated. Mill thought of this as relinquishment of free will and argued this is toxic in the longer run for a few reasons:

  1. Someone’s controversial idea today may turn out to be right tomorrow.
  2. Even if our opinion is correct, it must be weighed against a counter opinion.
  3. Opposing views may each contain parts of the truth. So, they must be combined.
  4. To practice these, Mill posits, “…our identity as a person must be kept separable from ideas we endorse at a given time.”

Implementing these principles isn’t easy because it needs leaders who feel secure letting go of power and trusting the team to discover where may answers lie. The process is an iterative one. Management thinkers such as Baba Prasad, the author of Nimble and president of the Vivekin Group describe this as an Agile practice.

Poring over the literature and case studies in Agility were eye-openers. Some of the literature is shared in the links below. Our curiosity piqued, each of us knocked at the doors of those in India who practice Agility.

In the weeks to come, we intend to make public our conversations with thought leaders and practitioners in the domain. We hope it triggers conversations and learnings in the larger Founding Fuel community.

If any stories come to mind or thoughts occur on how best to share all of this with the extended family, we’d love to connect with you.

My very best,

Charles Assisi

For Team Founding Fuel

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