Laying the Foundation for Change – Adaptability vs Agility

Laying the Foundation for Change – Adaptability vs Agility

In this post I will share an insight in to the principle of agility with the aim of piquing your interest for more content to come in the future. Hopefully you will then realise why you should care.

Methodologies – How we do Stuff

For those of you that reading this that are familiar with software development, you will know all about the concept of Agile. For those of you that are new to this area, here is a little summary.

Note: These concepts apply universally to getting anything done.

Traditionally when you wanted to build some new software, you would first document why you require it, then design what it would look like, then test it, then release it. This process would be very long and by the time you had finished it, the reason that you required it in the first place would often have changed. This is referred to as a waterfall model.

Agile came in as an antidote to the problem of building the wrong thing. In agile, as soon as you have a concept, you build the smallest quickest thing possible, then you ship it and learn. The aim is to acquire insight to shape your next move.

Next you then iterate building new things guided by your learning and refine them to be exactly what you want over time. You also reserve the right to throw it all away and start again if you learn something new!

Waterfall attempts to plot the whole course then follow the plan – like building the track then setting off the train.

Agile embraces uncertainty and pushes forwards regardless – like laying the track while you are driving the train.

Anyway, why all this talk of software development? Because the lessons of agility can be applied to all aspects of our lives. In fact, we often do this naturally without even realising it.

What is Adaptability?

Adaptation is the process of modifying our behaviour in response to a change in our environment. This could be a physical change or a psychological change. The success of our adaptation is measured by our physical and mental wellbeing along with our productivity. We may dip a little during the process of adaptation, but once adaptation is complete, if we have returned to the same or an even higher level of wellbeing and productivity, we could regard it as being successful.

The more we switch between situations, the better we become at it. Initially switching between A and B we learn the process of change. Once practiced, when C comes along, we will come to realise the process of change is much the same regardless of the change required. Yes, there will be some subtilties, but the overall recipe is fundamentally the same. Adaptation is a skill.

In reality though, we are in a constant state of change and flux, so there really is no hard beginning and end to this process. All we have to compare are two snapshots in time, one before the notable change event and one after. This is where agility comes in…

What is Agility then?

Our agility is both a measure of the speed at which we can adapt and the variety of situations we can adapt to. An increase in either our speed or variety will increase our agility, but over time it is the act of increasing both that will make us truly agile.

Agility means always being able to always push forward in pursuit of our goals regardless of what is going on around us.

Why does all this matter?

The more agile we are, the more we will be adept at dealing with the undulating road of life. Agility is a virtue though, one that is underpinned by our adaptability.

You cannot rapidly adapt if you cannot adapt at all. So, first start working on becoming an agent of change and then the rest will follow. There is a recipe for success and I am going to share some of the secrets of it with you in some future tools.

This is just a little taster laying the foundation of many more tools to come where I will explore in much more detail how the principles of agile can be used to live a more fulfilling, rich and authentic life.

Enjoy, for now.

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