Don’t call it Agile

The word Agile with a capital A is being mis-applied beyond its intended purpose to build software.

Agile illuminates the principles of agility for us, hence the enthusiasm for it.

The principles of agility are universally applicable: agile with a small a.

Agility is transformative wherever it is applied: it is a new lens on how we do things, that springs from the insights of complexity in the 1990s, of Lean in the 1980s, and Drucker in the 19n0s (yes yes with roots going back etc etc )

Agility is itself only one of a range of concepts that together encompass better ways of working.

Therefore the term Agile is applied too widely across domains and too deeply into them.

OTOH agility and small a agile are really good words to use everywhere. But let’s not ask them to encompass too many ideas either.

At Teal Unicorn, we talk about Human Systems Adaptability. I went looking for a simpler term and there isn’t one, except where people misuse capital a Agile. Each of those three words is a hold-all for a bunch of concepts. Adaptability includes agility, along with a bunch of other stuff.

We succumbed to marketing temptation and used the word “agile” in our book title. Even at the time I hummed and hahed. I wish we hadn’t. I wish we had said “open”. It’s a better word, it may catch on.