Category Agile and Architecture

AT#43: How to Become a Sustainably Adaptive Enterprise

AT#43: How to Become a Sustainably Adaptive Enterprise

Business agility is at the top of the priority list of CEOs. They want to get quick and agile like a rabbit that can change direction with each jump. This kind of agility, however, can only be achieved by well-designed enterprises that are adaptive to their surroundings. Like an octopus that can change shape and color in an instant.

But how to become a sustainably adaptive enterprise that survives disrupting competitors?

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AT#41: How to become a Sustainably Agile Enterprise

AT#41: How to become a Sustainably Agile Enterprise

Sustainability, the “ability to exist constantly” (wikipedia) is, for sure, a strength of enterprises of the old economy. Large enterprises have been around for many decades, a proof that they are running a sustainable business.

Nowadays, driven by disruptive forces, agility seams to have overtaken sustainability on the priority ranking of executive management. Boards of directors are aware that to survive in the era of startups their companies must transform in the direction of business agility i.e. to get in a state to “rapidly respond to change by adapting an initial stable configuration” (wikipedia). They invest huge amounts of money in Agile coaches believing that this is the way to improve business agility, but many times those coaches aren’t qualified.  Organizations are looking for easy solutions to becoming agile and there aren’t any.

Having a cursory high-level glance at the two poles sustainability and agility it appears as if…

  • agility interferes with the calmer flow of existing sustainable business models. Boating on rough waters into the unknown sea is a risk to sustainable survival. Is agility the enemy of sustainability?
  • sustainability interferes with agility – implementing changes in the enterprise design sustainably means to think holistically and harder and thus to invest more time. Is sustainability the enemy of business agility?

No to both questions!

Agility and sustainability complement each other. They interrelate like the famous Chinese yin yang symbol that describes “how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another”.

But what does this mean?

1. Without a sustainable continuous strategy, you cannot be agile in the medium term.

The architecture of your enterprise supports an agile business only if it has been designed for change. The building of flexible business&IT solutions that fit together to form a sound business architecture needs commonly used elements and ‘conceptual integrity’. This means that the concepts and structures of the business (capabilities, value streams, products & services, business objects, organizational structures) and IT must play together to form an agile enterprise design that maximizes simplicity, consistency, and thus business agility.

You need to go slower in the short term to become/stay fast in the long term.


2. Without business agility, you cannot sustain…

…because you cannot adapt to changing environments – the startups will take over. The strategies of yesteryear don’t provide sustainability any more.

The secret path to true business agility seems to be to solve this sustainability/agility paradox. To find the right speed for building strategic solutions. To be fast enough to survive in constantly changing times but to take enough time to build sustainable. To balance speed/agility with sustainability.


Solution for this paradox? You must become a sustainably agile enterprise

What you should do to become a sustainably agile enterprise

  • Create a lean, business-oriented architectural model of the existing structure of your enterprise collaboratively (involving business & IT people)
  • Set up lean governance structures to enable sustainable strategic decisions based on the solid information of this architecture model
  • Realizes small innovative minimum viable products (MVP) to evaluate new business opportunities using new technologies
  • Once MVPs have proven to create business value: take your time to integrate them properly with your existing business&IT structures





Previous Posts:

AT#20: Why Digital Transformation fails without Architecture

AT#15: How to make decisions in uncertain Times

AT#10: Technical Debt – the ignored Killer of “Agile” Enterprises

AT#33: Why we need a new Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto, created by seventeen guys from the field of software engineering eighteen years ago has certainly changed the way we create software solutions fundamentally and radically. The great majority of software development projects is done using agile practices like Scrum. Today, everybody knows the famous “we value X over Y” statements:

In recent years, ideas for scaling agile to a company-wide scope (eg, SAFe ©) and approaches to the “agile organization” have become increasingly popular. Nowadays everything needs to be “Agile”, (more…)

AT#23: How to use your Wisdom to make existing Practices agile

AT#23: How to use your Wisdom to make existing Practices agile

Whenever I discuss with people from the Agile world what ‘Agile’ is all about, they tell me that it’s very core is a mindset that is established through values and principles.

All agile practices, methods, and frameworks evolve out of this mindset. Ahmed Sidky visualizes this idea in his ->webinar:



When I saw this picture my gut told me that there is something fundamentally wrong with this idea. It took me weeks to find out why: Read More

AT#10: Technical Debt – the ignored Killer of “Agile” Enterprises

AT#10: Technical Debt – the ignored Killer of “Agile” Enterprises

Trapped in the vortex of digital transformation, almost all industries are facing challenges caused by highly accelerated technology innovation cycles, new and disrupting competitors, and, last but not least, a tremendous amount of technical debt in their vast historically grown IT landscape.

Dave Sag’s blog provides a good summary of what technical debt means.

To deal with this area of tension companies trust in ‘Agile’ gurus that tell them how they must change their organization and culture to become ‘agile’. If we look at the complexity of the application landscape of a typical company it becomes obvious that they simply can’t be agile without renovation projects that make their legacy IT agile.

What you should do:

  • Reduce your technical debt step by step by the renovation of your legacy IT. Agile IT landscapes make companies agile, not agile coaches that focus on culture and organizational aspects.
  • Hire business architects instead of agile coaches.

Previous Posts:

Launch of the Architectural Thinking Framework®

AT#8: Agile goes awry when loosing Balance between Speed and Sustainability

AT#8: Agile goes awry when loosing Balance between Speed and Sustainability

When Agile software development was born in 2001, it defined a set of four principles:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

I have worked in several Agile teams where ‘responding to change over following a plan,’ often got misinterpreted to mean “don’t have a plan.”  Those teams often find they waste time by adapting too much.

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