Dec 172010

There are two strands of interest to the CIO, the CTO, the CEO and the rest of the executive team: strategy and delivery. The fundamental premise of Agility to the C-level is quite straightforward:

  • “Merge” the two, so that:
    • Delivery can start before strategy is complete
    • Delivery informs strategy through tight feedback loops
  • The net effect is faster/earlier delivery of products and service that are well suited to satisfy the needs of target markets.

The Interplay of Strategy and Delivery

The paramount need to deliver faster/earlier is, for all practical purposes, dictated by today’s markets becoming hyper-segmented. For example, my (or your) Twitter network today is an evolving market segment. My Twitter network in March 2011 could easily be a different segment than the segment it is today. The only way to penetrate such fluid market segments effectively is by following the classic Agile mantra “Release early and often.”

In other words, Agility in 2011 is not “merely” about software methods and processes. Rather, it is all about value generation and recapture.

[Editor’s Note: This post is part of the annual “Cutter Predicts …” series, compiled at the Cutter Consortium website.]


Israel Gat

Israel Gat served as Cutter Fellow and the Director of the Agile Product Management & Software Engineering Excellence practice from 2008 until 2015.


  4 Responses to “2011: The Year the C Level Gets the Business Value of Agile”

  1. That this is the year the C Level “gets” the business value of agile may be true (for the USA, at least, Europe and the UK lag noticeably). But even if they get agile, they will NOT get the deleterious impact (cognitive dissonance, culture clashes, tribal conflicts, etc.) that adopting agile WILL cause in their organisations. We practitioners can leave them in the dark about that, or we can come clean and talk about it. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say.

    – Bob

    • avatar

      Various challenges are indeed likely to come up in the course of any enterprise level initiative to improve software proficiency, let alone extend it to downstream functions such as IT Operations. Discussing these challenges is of great value. Equally important, and possibly more important, is the approach the C level takes to coping with both the known and the unknown. I really like the words Russ Daniels, the CTO of HP Enterprise Services, uses to describe Agile as a paradigm for our time:

      “The real challenge, however, lies in how to go about solving problems when you don’t understand them well enough to get to a viable solution … when you don’t have a clear enough understanding of the problem to create clear solutions, you have to iterate.”

      IMHO the paradigm Russ advocates is the key to success. It does not really matter whether your are concerned with virtualization as Russ often is, or with a large scale roll-out of one software method or another as we often are in Cutter’s Agile practice. It is the disposition toward the inevitable challenges – particularly at the C level – that matters.


  2. Action creates clarity. And, in many ways, C level decision-making follows a waterfall approach. This often means fully-formed strategy that won’t work rather than a strategic framework that adapts to the market. Like any good agile development process, there needs to be some thinking milestones along the way.

  3. […] 2011: The Year the C Level Gets the Business Value of Agile […]

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