A few of us were recently discussing the increasing need to respond to real-time feedback from online initiatives (metrics, buzz, etc.) and the word “agility” came up again and again. As a producer with a background in software development, the word “agile” has a specific meaning to me relative to programming, because Agile is a formal software development methodology. It occurred to me in an instant that I was in a conversation where we were talking about our business from a software perspective, and there wasn’t a developer in the room.
Agile software development is an acknowledgment of a very human insight: by doing you learn, and when you learn, you adapt. Everyone has worked on a project that started out with an agreed upon scope and then as the project proceeded, ideas on how to improve the approach emerged. Agile techniques acknowledge this and use an iterative approach that embraces change rather than limit efforts to a linear trajectory. If properly managed according to a few key principles, projects have a natural organic progression that is evolutionary.
Some principles of agile development look a lot like Web 2.0 applied to workflow:
- Real-time collaboration rather than soloed teams and written document
- Responsibility rather than process
- Iterations, preferably frequent ones, rather than linear execution with a final deliverable
- Embracing change as opportunity to improve
Business process consultants have been talking about agility for years (some are talking about it in London today). From an online communication perspective, agility is more important than ever. When we execute a campaign, the learning happens in real time and effectively seizing the opportunities to adapt initiatives is imperative. It’s the classic difference between collaborative blogging communities vs. publishing a newspaper. Just as the New York Times learned agility, so are agencies.