The explosive influence of AI is showcasing how Agile-based thinking is the key to success
Since the mid-20th century, every industry has encountered wave after wave of technological advances, each of which has caused a greater or lesser degree of disruption. When Covid hit in March 2020, for instance, this further accelerated the evolution of digital business models and the digital transformation of work. The leadership teams of companies around the world set about transforming their companies, both faster and more deeply than ever before.
And now the next great disruption is upon us, this time affecting not just one but a huge range of different industries. Advances in language-based artificial intelligence (AI) – the underlying technology that powers applications such as ChatGPT – are ushering in a new era of disruption at an incomprehensible pace.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates had this to say about AI recently: “The development of AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the internet, and the mobile phone. It will change the way people work, learn, travel, get healthcare, and communicate with each other. Entire industries will reorient around it. Businesses will distinguish themselves by how well they use it.”
It’s clear, then, that the age of AI has begun. Everything from science to business and even society itself will be transformed. The positive impact on human creativity and productivity will be massive, with accelerated and continually accelerating rates of technological innovation enabling economic actors to interact in new and surprising ways. EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE, including YOU!
Companies need to radically rethink how work gets done, and Agile is the answer
Agile, as the signatories of the Agile Manifesto described it more than 20 years ago, is a fundamentally different way of working, thinking, and being. It’s about people “uncovering better ways of doing things and helping others to do it”, and “responding to change, rather than following a plan”.
Beyond dreaming up applications for AI-enabled technology, the priority for leadership teams will be twofold: finding ways to enable their business processes to evolve and training up their people. Indeed, to capitalize effectively, companies will need a strong digital core and a clear strategy for making investments in their staff. Only then will they be able to reap the full value of AI in a durable and people-centric way.
So, what does it take to achieve that kind of setup? Back in 2009, Gary Hamel, one of the world’s most influential business thinkers, asked a similar question: “How, in the age of rapid change, do you create organizations that are as adaptable and resilient as they are focused and efficient?”
This question is more relevant than ever. The ability to adapt to constant change may be the single greatest competitive advantage in the 21st century. Resilient, sustainable, and adaptable digital capabilities and operating models will play an integral role in determining the winners and losers in this next economic revolution.
This is also why agile methodologies and enterprise agility matter more than ever right now. For people-focused and product-driven businesses, these are the keys to operating at market speed – the speed of technological innovation – as a matter of routine. As each new opportunity or threat appears, an agile business will be able to deploy its resources fluidly in order to redesign its operations. Embedding that kind of thinking will guarantee that the business will remain relevant for whatever the future brings.
Yes, Agile started as a methodology for software development, and it has blossomed into a breakthrough business strategy for entire organizations to innovate and adapt. Of course, one of the key things to bear in mind here is that the whole organization will need to embrace change in order for this to work. Every aspect of the business must become agile, from how the CEO sets objectives to how the janitor organizes the cleaning routine.
Today, without a commitment to agile methodologies and enterprise agility, most digital transformation journeys will prove neither scalable nor sustainable. In most instances, that means organizations would be unable to seize the opportunities of AI in any meaningful way. Without a commitment to Agile and enterprise Agility, organizations will not be prepared to usher in a new era of total enterprise reinvention.
So, to return to Gary Hamel’s question: “How, in the age of rapid change, do you create organizations that are as adaptable and resilient as they are focused and efficient?” Well, the answer is by thoroughly investing in and embedding agile methodologies and enterprise agility. Remember, everything must change, including you.