What Is Business Agility? Business Agility In A Nutshell

Business agility describes the capabilities or behaviors that give an organization the freedom, flexibility, and resilience to carry out its purpose and provide customer value. Business agility is an operating model for the next generation of businesses, helping them thrive in unpredictable markets, be adaptable to change, and reduce costs without sacrificing quality.

Understanding business agility

The world of business has never been more dynamic. Organizations of all sizes are struggling to remain relevant to their customers, whose expectations have never been higher. What’s more, employees are searching for more empowerment, clarity, and meaning in their roles.

It’s important to think of business agility as a common thread that runs through an organization, binding everyone together. Every employee is responsible for agility. Indeed, a business is only as agile as its least agile division.

Rather predictably, business agility has a customer-centric focus. This means listening to the needs of the customer and meeting them as quickly as possible by creating superior user experiences. 

Business agility helps the organization proactively respond to market changes or emerging opportunities with innovative solutions. It also facilitates a suitable response to internal and external threats – whether they be commercial, legal, technological, social, or political in nature.

The business agility framework

The business agility framework consists of twelve interacting domains across four dimensions centered around the customer. Proficiency in each domain across all areas of the organization must be achieved before the benefits of business agility are realized.

Let’s take a general look at the four domains and the dimensions they incorporate.

Leadership domain

  1. One teambusiness agility requires a one-team mindset where creativity and collaboration work toward shared goals. These goals span departments, functions, and teams across the organization.
  2. People management – leaders need to recruit, hire, nurture and develop recruits with a strong organizational fit. They must actively embody mission and culture.
  3. Strategic ability – leaders must also formulate and communicate adaptive strategies and empower teams to innovate by identifying new opportunities.

Operations domain

  1. Structural agility – to embrace change with relative ease and little disruption, the right structures need to be in place.
  2. Process agility – similarly, operations need to adapt and evolve as required to continually meet customer value expectations.
  3. Enterprise agility – here, business operations governance must encourage and facilitate innovation as opposed to stifling creative growth.

Individuals domain

  1. Craft excellence – business agility recognizes excellence as the ability for individuals to take advantage of emergent opportunities for customers.
  2. Growth mindset – individuals must also be open to continuous change and personal development in sometimes ambiguous environments. Importantly, they also need to be comfortable with making mistakes.
  3. Ownership and accountability – employees who are invested in customers and customer work tend to make better decisions and can adapt to change quickly.

Relationships domain

  1. Workforcebusiness agility requires an empowered and passionate workforce aligned with the company mission and strategy
  2. Partners – the relationships a business has with partners should be flexible and driven by customer value. They should not, where possible, be driven by contractual transactions.
  3. Board – lastly, the board of directors and the leaders of an organization should have an open, collaborative working relationship. A focus on the customer and long-term success should always be maintained, which helps the business resist the temptation of short-term wins.

Key takeaways:

  • Business agility applies the principles of agile development to an entire organization. Among other things, business agility facilitates adaptability, change responsiveness, and cost reduction.
  • Business agility has a customer-centric focus. Customer needs must be understood and met as quickly as possible by developing a high-quality user experience.
  • Business agility is based on a framework comprising four core dimensions, with each dimension in turn comprised of three domains. Collectively, they detail how business agility may be applied at the organization level.

Related Agile Business Concepts


AIOps is the application of artificial intelligence to IT operations. It has become particularly useful for modern IT management in hybridized, distributed, and dynamic environments. AIOps has become a key operational component of modern digital-based organizations, built around software and algorithms.

Agile Methodology

Agile started as a lightweight development method compared to heavyweight software development, which is the core paradigm of the previous decades of software development. By 2001 the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was born as a set of principles that defined the new paradigm for software development as a continuous iteration. This would also influence the way of doing business.

Agile Project Management

Agile project management (APM) is a strategy that breaks large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. In the APM methodology, each project is completed in small sections – often referred to as iterations. Each iteration is completed according to its project life cycle, beginning with the initial design and progressing to testing and then quality assurance.

Agile Modeling

Agile Modeling (AM) is a methodology for modeling and documenting software-based systems. Agile Modeling is critical to the rapid and continuous delivery of software. It is a collection of values, principles, and practices that guide effective, lightweight software modeling.

Agile Business Analysis

Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

Business Model Innovation

Business model innovation is about increasing the success of an organization with existing products and technologies by crafting a compelling value proposition able to propel a new business model to scale up customers and create a lasting competitive advantage. And it all starts by mastering the key customers.

Continuous Innovation

That is a process that requires a continuous feedback loop to develop a valuable product and build a viable business model. Continuous innovation is a mindset where products and services are designed and delivered to tune them around the customers’ problem and not the technical solution of its founders.

Design Sprint

A design sprint is a proven five-day process where critical business questions are answered through speedy design and prototyping, focusing on the end-user. A design sprint starts with a weekly challenge that should finish with a prototype, test at the end, and therefore a lesson learned to be iterated.

Design Thinking

Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.


DevOps refers to a series of practices performed to perform automated software development processes. It is a conjugation of the term “development” and “operations” to emphasize how functions integrate across IT teams. DevOps strategies promote seamless building, testing, and deployment of products. It aims to bridge a gap between development and operations teams to streamline the development altogether.

Dual Track Agile

Product discovery is a critical part of agile methodologies, as its aim is to ensure that products customers love are built. Product discovery involves learning through a raft of methods, including design thinking, lean start-up, and A/B testing to name a few. Dual Track Agile is an agile methodology containing two separate tracks: the “discovery” track and the “delivery” track.

Feature-Driven Development

Feature-Driven Development is a pragmatic software process that is client and architecture-centric. Feature-Driven Development (FDD) is an agile software development model that organizes workflow according to which features need to be developed next.

eXtreme Programming

eXtreme Programming was developed in the late 1990s by Ken Beck, Ron Jeffries, and Ward Cunningham. During this time, the trio was working on the Chrysler Comprehensive Compensation System (C3) to help manage the company payroll system. eXtreme Programming (XP) is a software development methodology. It is designed to improve software quality and the ability of software to adapt to changing customer needs.

Lean vs. Agile

The Agile methodology has been primarily thought of for software development (and other business disciplines have also adopted it). Lean thinking is a process improvement technique where teams prioritize the value streams to improve it continuously. Both methodologies look at the customer as the key driver to improvement and waste reduction. Both methodologies look at improvement as something continuous.

Lean Startup

A startup company is a high-tech business that tries to build a scalable business model in tech-driven industries. A startup company usually follows a lean methodology, where continuous innovation, driven by built-in viral loops is the rule. Thus, driving growth and building network effects as a consequence of this strategy.


Kanban is a lean manufacturing framework first developed by Toyota in the late 1940s. The Kanban framework is a means of visualizing work as it moves through identifying potential bottlenecks. It does that through a process called just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing to optimize engineering processes, speed up manufacturing products, and improve the go-to-market strategy.

Rapid Application Development

RAD was first introduced by author and consultant James Martin in 1991. Martin recognized and then took advantage of the endless malleability of software in designing development models. Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a methodology focusing on delivering rapidly through continuous feedback and frequent iterations.

Scaled Agile

Scaled Agile Lean Development (ScALeD) helps businesses discover a balanced approach to agile transition and scaling questions. The ScALed approach helps businesses successfully respond to change. Inspired by a combination of lean and agile values, ScALed is practitioner-based and can be completed through various agile frameworks and practices.

Spotify Model

The Spotify Model is an autonomous approach to scaling agile, focusing on culture communication, accountability, and quality. The Spotify model was first recognized in 2012 after Henrik Kniberg, and Anders Ivarsson released a white paper detailing how streaming company Spotify approached agility. Therefore, the Spotify model represents an evolution of agile.

Test-Driven Development

As the name suggests, TDD is a test-driven technique for delivering high-quality software rapidly and sustainably. It is an iterative approach based on the idea that a failing test should be written before any code for a feature or function is written. Test-Driven Development (TDD) is an approach to software development that relies on very short development cycles.


Timeboxing is a simple yet powerful time-management technique for improving productivity. Timeboxing describes the process of proactively scheduling a block of time to spend on a task in the future. It was first described by author James Martin in a book about agile software development.


Scrum is a methodology co-created by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland for effective team collaboration on complex products. Scrum was primarily thought for software development projects to deliver new software capability every 2-4 weeks. It is a sub-group of agile also used in project management to improve startups’ productivity.

Scrum Anti-Patterns

Scrum anti-patterns describe any attractive, easy-to-implement solution that ultimately makes a problem worse. Therefore, these are the practice not to follow to prevent issues from emerging. Some classic examples of scrum anti-patterns comprise absent product owners, pre-assigned tickets (making individuals work in isolation), and discounting retrospectives (where review meetings are not useful to really make improvements).

Scrum At Scale

Scrum at Scale (Scrum@Scale) is a framework that Scrum teams use to address complex problems and deliver high-value products. Scrum at Scale was created through a joint venture between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum Inc. The joint venture was overseen by Jeff Sutherland, a co-creator of Scrum and one of the principal authors of the Agile Manifesto.

Read Also: Continuous InnovationAgile MethodologyLean StartupBusiness Model InnovationProject Management.

Read Next: Agile Methodology, Lean Methodology, Agile Project Management, Scrum, Kanban, Six Sigma.

Read Next: Business AnalysisCompetitor Analysis, Continuous InnovationAgile MethodologyLean StartupBusiness Model InnovationProject Management.

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