Mission-critical agility

In a keynote at the Eclipse Summit Europe (ESE 2010) Jeff Norris, NASA, reminded the audience that “agile” is an adjective describing behaviour. Jeff is one of the few people I know (I am the other one) who believe that “agile” should be used to describe behavioural traits of humans or organisation. The term “agile method” does not really make sense. Maybe this explins partly why “agile method” in product develoment is so easily equated with “freestyle”, or no discipline or predictability.

Using example like Alexander Graham Bell and Werner von Braun Jeff outlined the traits of truely agile people:

  • they have a vision
  • they are committed
  • they “feel” what – possibly significant – change is required to make the opportunity happen
  • they see this opportunity, but they also recognise the risk that change inherently brings with it, and, very importantly,
  • they see the risk that not changing brings

This latter insight distinguishes agile people from those, who are not.

Well, this describes one of our society’s key barriers to embrace (sustainable) change very aptly.

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About Hans-Jürgen

I am Chief Scientist of Kugler Maag Cie GmbH, an independent, international consulting company, specialising in the improvement of business and product development processes – from analysis, consultancy, and operative implementation to training and coaching. Most customers work in the context of emerging critical systems, such as automotive and transport. These require leading edge techniques to be deployed and organizational readiness for future challenges to be established. I have 35 years of experience in the software determined systems sector. As adjunct Professor, University of Limerick, I was Industry Director of Lero, the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre, which I helped to establish. Previously I was a lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, a director of software product and services companies, and Technical Director of the European Software Institute. I was involved in the design of means for industry-wide competence development in the automotive sector, and I conducted the first independent organizational software development capability assessment in the automotive industry in Germany. In my opinion the key competitive factor of the future will be a personal and organisational ability to embrace rapid change of the ecosystem and to proactively and continuously implement sustainable change. I have an M.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Dortmund and an M.A. of Trinity College Dublin. In 1986 I was awarded the IFIP Silver Core.
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