Business Agility

Business Agility is the ability to adapt quickly and effectively, to all forms of change and disruption, to deliver maximum value and greatest satisfaction – for customers, employees and everyone else impacted by the work of an organization. – developed with Mike Beedle, co-author of the Agile Manifesto


My understanding of how to manage and grow this ability is informed by twenty-many years of wide-ranging practice: from experiential team-building to agile software development, from field reps to c-suite leaders, from assessment to action, in small groups and whole organizations.

I’ve been lucky enough to work and learn with some highly skilled practitioners and renowned thought leaders (acknowledged below), but Business Agility is NOT about imposing any of these practices or frameworks. It’s more – and less – than that!

It’s an ever-evolving view and an active commitment to short, focused work cycles, delivering value that matters to real customers, punctuated by regular moments of feedback, reflection, adjustment and improvement. It’s the going back and forth between the work and the framework(s), between doing and doing better, that matters and makes us stronger together. This pulsation is the real work of agile teams, managers and leaders.

Here are the approaches and learnings that inform my work to cultivate the clarity and collaboration needed to maximize value and satisfaction, in any organization, in spite of everything. This is how we can invite and support agility anywhere!

Frameworks, Practices and Teachers

  • Enterprise Scrum, for scaling Scrum and agility across whole enterprises, as shared by Mike Beedle (Certified Enterprise Scrum Coach and Trainer for Software Scaling and Business Agility)
  • BOSSA Nova for Company-wide Agility, Jutta Eckstein and John Buck’s approach combines Agile, Open Space, Beyond Budgeting and Sociocracy for managing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity throughout any organization. (I was a contributor to their book.)
  • Enterprise Business Agility, as shared by Sally Elatta, Ryan Fullmer, Doc List, and Bryan Tew, a seven-pillar approach to designing and leading agile transformation at the enterprise level. (Certified Enterprise Business Agility Strategist)
  • Scrum, a framework for developing, delivering, and sustaining complex products, as shared by Daniel Mezick, Mike Beedle, Mike Marchi, the Scrum Guide, the Agile Alliance, the Scrum Alliance, Agile user groups and Coach Camps (Certified Scrum Professional and Certified Scrum Master Scrum, by Scrum Alliance)
  • Open Space Technology, an approach for inviting and supporting rapid and responsible self-organization, as shared by Harrison Owen, Anne Stadler, Brian Bainbridge and colleagues/collaborators around the world for 30+ years.  (Internationally recognized leader in the OS practice community)
  • Liberating Structures, micro-structures immediately adaptable to any kind of work in organization, as shared by Lisa Kimball, Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless
  • Search Conference and Participative Work (Re)Design, early and elegant approaches for introducing adaptive self-management in organizations, learned with Merrelyn Emery, Bob Rehm, Nancy Cebula, and Frank Heckman
  • Experiential Adult Education and Teambuilding as practiced with New York City Outward Bound and the Proudman Group
  • Appreciative Inquiry as shared by Bliss Browne, Peggy Holman, Buddhi Tamang and others
  • Asset-Based Community Development as taught by John McKnight
  • Wilderness Expeditionary Learning with Outward Bound USA as student and staff
  • Dialogue as shared by Sue Miller Hurst and Roger Breisch
  • Circle Practice as shared by Ora Schub, Cheryl Graves and Peter Newman via the Community Justice for Youth Institute
  • Dispute Mediation with Margaret Master, Patricia Deer, and the Chicago Center for Conflict Resolution
  • Systems Thinking, Process Mapping, Modeling and Simulation as taught by High Performance Systems, now iSee Systems
  • Technology of Participation as taught by the Institute of Cultural Affairs, Chicago
  • Distance Learning and Collaboration with a wide variety of tools and platforms

Other Valuable Influences

  • Agile Development, including Kanban, Open Space Agility, FAST Agile, Modern Agility and a wide variety of practices used within and beyond software teams
  • An Open Life, and stories of Transformation, (re)told by Joseph Campbell
  • A Brief History of Everything and other works by Ken Wilber
  • The Fourfold Way by Angeles Arrien
  • Bucky Fuller, Inventor, Designer and Life as Experiment
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on the psychology of optimal experience
  • The Fifth Discipline and Systems Thinking by Peter Senge
  • Pattern Language and Nature of Order by Christopher Alexander
  • Spiral Dynamics as articulated by Don Beck
  • World Cafe as developed by Juanita Brown and David Isaacs
  • Nonviolent Communication as taught by Marshall Rosenberg
  • Vipassana Meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka
  • Zapchen Somatics as taught by Julie Henderson

Formal Education

  • Financial Analysis, Quality Management, Business Strategy and Critical Thinking at the University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business (now Booth School of Business).
  • Economics and Business at Indiana University (Bloomington)