BONUS: Business Agility, what it is and how to achieve it with Evan Leybourn

What is Business Agility? In a time where it seems that every company wants to adopt Agile, there’s also the dark side of Agile: the belief that it only affects “people in the IT department”. That could not be further from the truth.

In this episode, we have Evan Leybourn sharing what Business Agility is about, and why it matters for your organization.

The origins of Business Agility

When defining Business Agility, Evan talks about the origins of the term. The inspiration came from work by Steve Denning and Eric Ries. Steve Denning’s books (The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management and The Age of Agile) were some of the inspiring factors for Evan to found the Business Agility institute. Eric Ries’ Lean Startup was another inspiration and an example of how the Agile way of thinking goes deeper and wider than “just IT”.

Evan shares his own definition of Business Agility that includes phrases such as “Customer Centricity” and “ability to thrive in an unpredictable market”.

The misunderstandings of Agile applied to the business

It is tempting to think that Business Agility is about just applying the Agile values and principles to the other departments in the business. However, that’s not the case and can lead to much frustration and problems. Evan suggests that Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches should, instead, ask questions such as: “how can I help my business apply customer-centric ways of working?”

The goal should be to adapt to changes in the market and learn how to satisfy a customer that is “moving faster than you”, as Evan puts it.

How Scrum Masters can get ready to support Agile businesses

The Scrum Master role needs to evolve when working in businesses that want to become Agile throughout its functions and processes.

Evan shares with us the Business Agility Report that he has edited setting out what are the main aspects that needs attention when we want to support Agile adoption in our businesses/organizations.

For those wanting to explore more on the details of what an Agile business may look like, Evan shares the Business Agility Institute’s library, and we have several blog posts right here on the podcast website by Jacopo Romei on the topic of #ExtremeContracts. We also have a podcast episode about Lean and Agile Financial Planning as well as a BONUS episode with Mirko Kleiner from the Agile Procurement movement.

Conditions for adoption of Agile in the business

As we understand more of what Business Agility is, the question is: what are the conditions we need in place for Agile to work at the business level.

We explore with Evan the three conditions needed for Business Agility to succeed:

  1. Changing how work is funded
  2. The use and organization around Value Streams
  3. Relentless continuous improvement

In this segment, we explore each of those in more detail, as well as some of the necessary changes that come when those conditions are in place.

The new role for the Scrum Master

When a business adopts Business Agility, the role of the Scrum Master also changes. The first, most obvious change is that the focus shifts towards the whole business, not just the work at the team level.

But there are more changes related to that wider focus. In this segment, we explore the main changes, and how you can prepare to help, and thrive in your Agile Business.

Business Agility Resources

As you dive into the topic of Business Agility, Evan suggests a library of case studies available on the Business Agility Institute website.

The challenge is: learn what it means to be Agile at the business level so that you are ready to adapt as a Scrum Master.

About Evan Leybourn

Evan is the Founder and CEO of the Business Agility Institute; an international membership body to both champion and support the next generation of organizations. Companies that are agile, innovative and dynamic – perfectly designed to thrive in today’s unpredictable markets. His experience while holding senior leadership and board positions in both private industry and government has driven his work in business agility and he regularly speaks on these topics at local and international industry conferences.

As well as leading the Business Agility Institute, Evan is also the author of Directing the Agile Organisation (2012) and #noprojects; a culture of continuous value (2018).

You can link with Evan Leybourn on LinkedIn and connect with Evan Leybourn on Twitter.

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