Agile and Organisational Resilience – Part 1: Introduction

Only a crisis produces real change.
When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.

Milton Friedman

When last have you listened to Maurice Ravel’s Boléro? It’s a beautiful piece built on a steady crescendo which leads to a sudden finale of collapsing flutes, trumpets, cellos and violas. This crescendo and finale is a wonderful musical metaphor that is facing many organisations.

These are crescendos that lead to profound alterations in an organisation’s existence and direction. They end in a sudden cascade of chaos, disorientation and bewilderment. Often they lead to deep changes which cannot be anticipated or rehearsed.

Such cascades are unforeseen shock events. These events trigger a crisis. How organisations deal with these crises depend on their awareness, preparedness, experience and adaptability. These intangible factors cannot be directly engineered or copied from another organisation.

The management of a crisis, if done poorly, can lead to an organisation’s demise. If handled well they can lead to recovery and a return to normal.

However, if and when the situation has been stabilised, I believe these crises are opportunities to grow beyond normality. This is important because, in a fast-changing competitive market, returning to “business-as-usual” is likely to lead to more undesirable failure.

The Agile and Organisational Resilience article series

In this series of articles, I will examine how organisations can create opportunity following a crisis. I will argue that as the world becomes more complex and undiscernable, how organisations prepare and deal with inevitable failure can give them a competitive advantage. So much so that intentional failure can provide more upside than the downside from the moments of chaos and confusion.

This is an illustration which I’ll be returning to throughout this series of articles.

Many readers will be from the fields of Agile or Lean. For other readers, they may be new. In the next article, I will be explaining the current maturity of these concepts and then set them aside to return to the theme of organisational resilience. Towards the end of these series, I will explain how Agile and Lean can provide competitive advantage immediately following a crisis.

There will be about ten articles in this series. To help keep your attention, I will be keeping each article to no more than about 500 words.

Shares, comments and considered counter-arguments are always welcome.

Lastly, listen again to Ravel’s Boléro: