Is agility the answer to the future? 

 17 May 2021

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Last week I was invited to a podcast interview on the topic of agility and future technologies. The conversation quickly wrapped around the idea of whether agility is the solution to meet the challenges of the future. Oh. Strong statement that I would like to give space to today.

The problem is us

The first question is, where do the challenges actually come from? Are they caused by software? Is AI to blame? Or the nuclear reactors? I would say: no, the problem is not such technologies per se. Technology is like a knife: it's up to us what we do with the tool - save lives or screw them up.

And we are not so bad at heart that we deliberately get into mischief. We manage to do a lot of it well. But even if each individual pursues a good intention, in sum and as a system we have accumulated quite a lot of rubbish on our beautiful spaceship Earth: Climate change, societal muddle, highly dynamic economy and volatile markets. And in all this turmoil, we only understand half of it anyway, the other half overwhelms us, and e-cars are supposed to save us now? Exactly not.

The solution is us

Technology alone will not be enough. Every tool needs a hero who knows how to use it. And that can only be us. The work is up to us. It's not the e-car that will save us, but how we live mobility in the future. Not AI, but how we use it to promote biodiversity. And even the most sophisticated CI pipeline will only deliver scrap if we don't use it in well-formed work processes.

In order for us to be able to think about this creatively at all, the framework conditions have to be right. Every good idea is nipped in the bud by excessive demands, stress and chaos. Context change, movement, joy and exchange with like-minded people at eye level, on the other hand, promote ideas and new thoughts. And last but not least, we need the ability to deal with crises, setbacks and uncertainty - a high level of resilience. All this is not brought to us by the tools, but by personal development.

Is agility personality development for teams?

The first definition of personality development that Google spits out is: "Personality development is the development of personality". I see. Historically, scholars have already dug deeper into the subject. Greats like Freud, Jung, Adler or Erikson. There are many schools that dominate the gigantic market of personality development today, in various forms and combinations. From business and life coaching, seminars, constellations, retreats to gurus, energy work or even laying on of hands and angel brushing ... there is something for every taste. The field is huge and confusing, the desire and need very high.

But what remains at the core, apart from all the stylistic blossoms in this area, is a triad of personal development:

  • (Self)realisation
  • (Self)acceptance
  • (Self)change

Oha, aren't these also typical questions in agile transformation:

  • What can I do? What can we do? Where are my/our strengths? (Awareness)
  • What went well? What did not go well? (Acceptance)
  • What do I/we want to do differently now (change)?

Thinking further, I think all the agile tools, methods and formats are there to support us. Namely, to develop our own agile way, our agile mindset - or whatever you like to call it. And that is personal development.

The answer

Yes, and is that why agility is the answer to the future? I don't think so. Huh? Yes, exactly. From my perspective, it is the vehicle. A good, functioning framework to develop ourselves as individuals, as a team and as a company. This further development is the answer. Fall down, get up, crown, learn and move on. To get better and better at dealing with all the vagaries, uncertainties and challenges. To increase our resilience and thus come out of crises stronger. And to then have the freedom to creatively shape our future.

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