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The Age of Agile: How Smart Companies Are Transforming the Way Work Gets Done Hardcover – February 8, 2018
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More value from less work.
An unstoppable business revolution is under way—and it is Agile. Companies that embrace Agile Management learn to connect everyone and everything . . . all the time. They can deliver instant, intimate, frictionless value on a large scale.
Agile began emerging many decades ago, but truly took off in the software development industry. Sparking dramatic improvements in quality, innovation, and speed-to-market, the Agile movement is now spreading quickly throughout all kinds of companies. It enables a team, a unit, or an enterprise to nimbly adapt and upgrade products and services to meet rapidly changing technology and customer needs. And the process is applicable anywhere—companies don’t need to be born Agile, like Spotify. Even centuries-old Barclays is making the transition and reaping rewards.
Filled with examples from every sector, The Age of Agile helps readers:
Master the three laws of Agile Management (team, customer, network) • Embrace the new mindset • Overcome constraints • Employ meaningful metrics • Make the entire organization Agile • And more
With this breakthrough approach, even global giants can learn to act entrepreneurially. Their future depends on it.
From the Inside Flap
We are at the genesis of a new age — the age of Agile. It’s an exhilarating time, because unprecedented change can happen nearly overnight. Why? Because a truly “agile” organization connects everyone and everything . . . all the time. It is capable of delivering instant, intimate, frictionless value on a large scale.
But how? How can a complex company such as Ericsson, Barclays, Fidelity Investments, or Microsoft jump into new initiatives with the nimbleness of an athlete? How can large organizations act like small entrepreneurs? In The Age of Agile, you will learn the principles and techniques that make up Agile management. Originally developed in the software industry, this flexible approach to management has been refined and molded to function powerfully in industry after industry: technology, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, health, telecommunications, aircraft, automobiles—nearly any field.
The Age of Agile unpacks the groundbreaking ideas and practices that are remaking the very foundations of business. Agile isn’t simply a new “process” to be grafted onto current management practice. It is a fundamentally different concept — a new mindset — about the structure of your company . . . and how you must operate to succeed in today’s world.
Reporting from the frontlines, author Steve Denning takes you deep into the Agile management revolution. He provides specific, inspiring examples of how some of today’s enlightened companies are leveraging the power of Agile, including firms such as: Airbnb, Amazon, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Lyft, Menlo Innovations, Saab, Samsung, Spotify, Tesla, Uber, and Warby Parker.
Drawing on lessons learned from these bold companies and his own ongoing practice, Denning demystifies Agile by providing three “laws” that make it practical and clear:
• The Law of the Small Team shows how to operate in a “VUCA” world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity). Using this law, difficult problems are split into manageable batches and performed by small cross-functional, self-governing teams, working iteratively in short cycles, with fast feedback from customers and end-users.
• The Law of the Customer flows from the epic shift in power in the marketplace from seller to buyer, and the need for firms to radically accelerate their ability to make decisions and change direction in light of unexpected events and new customer demands. It amounts to a Copernican revolution in management.
• The Law of the Network (the linchpin of Agile) illustrates what’s involved in making the entire organization Agile.
Becoming “agile” is a continuing journey, not a finite accomplishment. You’ll know your company has joined the fray when its goal has shifted from creating profits to creating delighted customers. And you’ll find that not focusing on “making money” . . . makes more money.
Stephen Denning is a renowned Agile advocate who serves on the advisory board of the Drucker Forum. He is a former World Bank executive and author of several books including The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management.
Top customer reviews
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This is a hugely readable and well informed book that answers by example. Plus the history and future of “agile”. By far the best agile book I’ve read in the last ten years.
Ironically and sadly, this is precisely the situation to which then chairman and CEO of 3M, William L. McKnight responded...86 years ago: "If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need." The same is true of agility, without which no organization can thrive and only a few can survive. I agree with Denning that smart leaders are transforming what their organizations do and how they do it. As I think about all the challenges that organizations -- especially the largest organizations -- face today, I am again reminded of the fact the largest oil takers need to travel about 40 miles in order to reverse direction. Smaller ships require shorter distances, of course, but all must -- in Denning's words -- "radically reinvent how they are organized and led and embrace a new management paradigm, [one that] may seem to some readers to be extreme. It is not. "This isn't a management fad that was invented last Tuesday and it will be gone by Friday. It is based not just on a handful of recent examples -- mere flashes in the pan -- but on the experiences over decades of tens of thousands of organizations around the world." Denning thoroughly explains this "new management paradigm": what it is, what it isn't, and how to take full advantage of the benefits it offers.
Denning has decades of wide and deep experience with all types of organizations throughout the global marketplace. In his latest book, he recommends and examines a new management paradigm, one that is a journey, not a destination. He obviously agrees with Richard Dawkins' widely quoted observation, “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.” As Denning explains, this new paradigm "involves never ending innovation, both in terms of the specific innovations that the organization generates for the customer and the steady improvements to the the practice of management itself. A firm never 'arrives' at a steady state where it can relax because 'we are now Agile.' Embracing the new paradigm requires continuous improvement and leadership from management."
These are among the subjects on which Denning focuses that are of greatest interest and value to me:
o How organizations can create more value with less work by minimizing (if not eliminating) waste of resources, especially time
o How small teams can have great imoact
o Why Peter Drucker was right: "There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer."
o The power of a flexible "team of teams" with a shared vision
o How Microsoft has "alignment at the top and autonomy at the bottom" remain agile at scale
o How to complete a transition from operational agility to strategic agility
o How to overcome or avoid these traps: shareholder value, share buyback, cost-oriented economies, and backward-looking strategy
Denning is a relentless empiricist and diehard pragmatist who has an insatiable curiosity to understand and then explain the "how" and "why" of major business issues. Fortunately for the rest of us, he is driven to share what he has learned with as many people as possible. In this his latest and most valuable book (thus far), Denning responds to three timeless questions that leaders of all organizations must ask...and then answer:
o "How do organizations flourish in a VUCA world, where the customer is in charge of the marketplace?"
o "Why has embracing tis new way of running organizations become a necessity?"
o "What can leaders at all levels of the society do to create a more energizing, prosperous, and meaningful mode of working and living?"
In this context, I am again reminded of an incident years ago when one of Albert Einstein's faculty colleagues at Princeton playfully chided him for asking the same questions every year on his final examinations. "Quite true. Guilty as charged. Each year, the answers are different." That's why Stephen Denning constantly challenges his own thinking...and ours.
I highly recommend The Age of Agile. Arrive in the present, focus on what matters most and enter the 21st century.