Chapter 5. Agile Means That We Plan for Uncertainty


It is more or less a given at this point that the world is changing quickly and organizations must become more flexible. But actually creating and protecting space to act on that need for flexibility is a huge challenge, and one for which Agile principles and practices are particularly well suited. Agile not only acknowledges the reality of an uncertain and fast-changing world, but also provides an actual structure for navigating that uncertainty.

Following the guiding principle of planning for uncertainty provides organizations with a way to balance short-term flexibility with long-term planning. The Agile Manifesto reminds us to value “responding to change over following a plan,” and Agile gives us a way to formally build responding to change into the actual plans that we follow. Here, again, Agile practices give us concrete steps we can take to become more flexible and responsive, while Agile principles give us a directional sense of how those practices can change our work for the better.

Many organizations already have initiatives under way to become more adaptable, presenting a great opportunity to integrate your Agile principles with existing organizational language and ideas. One organization we worked with, for example, used the lens of “external focus” to describe how they would keep pace with the fast-changing world ...

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