The Age of Agile is an excellent book about the revolution in how the most prosperous companies meet and exceed customers’ needs and successfully engage their employees.
The second part of the book takes a deep dive into the shareholder value thinking. The book offers a plethora of interesting case studies and a little deeper analysis of the agile transformation conducted in Microsoft. All presented companies focus on building trusting, purpose-driven networks of small task groups throughout their organisations, as they could spontaneously react to new market demands. Although the first part about agile mindset is really interesting, the second part reflecting and criticising blind focus on share prices is more provocative. It tells the story on how many innovative companies were taken over by CFOs and, as a result, they ceased creating value for the customers and focused predominantly on share value and their short-term incentives.
For the last two years I have been working in “agile” environment and, honestly, now I understand why, in my opinion, it haven’t been working. Stephen Denning, the book’s author, once wrote that you cannot achieve an agile business unless there is common trust among and within teams. To create an agile company you have to expose yourself to risks and failures. You have to experiment and ceaselessly gather usable information. You cannot penalise people who tried to do something out of the box and failed. If you work in a company which, year-over-year, reduces its workforce by 10-15%, there might be a real problem in implementing an agile mindset.
I think that the book might be a great examination of conscience for those hi-ups who aspire to lead an agile business, as well as for those who would like to understand the core concepts of an agile culture.
The Age of Agile: How Smart Companies Are Transforming the Way Work Gets Done
by Stephen Denning
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