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Is My Business Agile?

by Judy Ryan

“I submit that there must be a commitment to, practice of, and execution of professional common behaviors and the presence of highly communicated standardized organizational expectations - without which there are no supports upon which the Agile/SAFe bar can be confidently raised.” Jim Rosa, Icon Enterprise Agile Consultant

Because of complexity and globalization and the need for interdisciplinary insights, models and activities in today’s businesses, we are all required to understand, adopt and leverage systems. As a systems geek, passionate about their value, I will define key terms and why each is important to your success.

Business Agility
The greatest reason to understand and adopt business and human systems is so that your business itself becomes agile. Wikipedia states that business agility refers to the capacity of business systems to rapidly respond to change in order to maintain and modify goods and services in meeting customer demands, adjust to changes in a business environment, and take advantage of available resources. In a business context, agility is the ability of an organization to rapidly and efficiently adapt to market and environmental changes.

Agile Enterprise Architecture
Agile enterprise architecture is one such needed framework of systems because it allows organizations to use key principles of complex adaptive systems and complexity science to achieve success. Don’t let these big terms scare you. I’ll explain them in simple terms below. Enterprise architecture is to your business what an architect and a blueprint are to building a house.

Without it, you cannot create the sophistication and maturity you need and want in your business. Agile enterprise architecture is when a business understands the need for flexible, easily extended structures and processes upon which to build and evolve. Without it, the right activities may not get done at all or get done right. Clarity leads to desired competitive advantages.

Complex Adaptive Systems
These describe a system of systems, each of which can stand on its own. Envision multiple groups building a house. They include structural, mechanical, plumbing, electrical and construction systems and teams, all working on their parts simultaneously. Each must be able to self-organize, adapt and reconnect periodically to collaborate. Imagine each as complex and ever-changing, all while remaining cross-functional. This is challenging enough in house-building. Consider your business when you mix in emergent technologies, advances in organizational psychology, digital transformation, and changing client and business requirements. As you manage the growth of your business, each system you incorporate must be high-performing and use best practices because your business is only as strong as your weakest link.

Complexity Science

Complexity science is the study of systems, frameworks and the hierarchy of these structures. As in my building example, complexity science clarifies the overall understanding of what, how and when systems must be placed, interact and mutate in interdisciplinary ways. Without having a systems understanding and an architecture and skill set, you may overlook those systems crucial for your ability to innovate and be successful.

Organizational Intelligence
Similar to emotional and social intelligence, organizational intelligence requires analysis concerning the intellectual capacities within your business and how to manage them. When you have organizational intelligence, all activities of the business are well-designed and allow for growth and change as you achieve desired results.

Judy Ryan (, human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Join her in her mission to create a world in which all people love their lives. She can also be reached at 314-239-4727.
People hire LifeWork Systems because we help businesses become agile and manage their priority system: their human system. I hope this article helps you make sense of what’s most crucial to your evolving organization!

Submitted 5 years 148 days ago
Categories: categoryThe Extraordinary Workplace
Views: 2863