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Top Six Reasons Corporate IT Avoids Agility

With all the talk about "IT agility", you would think that the only thing holding corporate IT back from moving quickly are external forces like funding and resources. I actually think some Corporate IT teams might actually avoid being agile. Here are the top five reasons:

1) Agility means risk. Optimally this is calculated risk but regardless it is still risk and risk makes people nervous. Unless IT leadership supports and rewards risk taking, it will not happen. Not all risk taking leads to something successful so people avoid it unless they get air-cover from their leadership team.

2) Agility requires speed. Good decisions in IT typically takes time. IT teams usually follow some sort of Project Lifecycle process which typically follows a "waterfall development model". Scrum or Agile development radically changes the typical waterfall model that most IT teams follow when doing projects. Unless IT leadership supports an iterative development model, IT will continue to follow the slower waterfall approach.

3) Agility requires that IT has a broad understanding of technical solutions and options - this means that IT needs to be at the top of their game technically. The broader IT's understanding of technical options, the more likely IT will be able to identify solutions that are agile. If IT is not focused on staying technically current, they are at a disadvantage.

4) Agility means more work for IT. Rapid releases, brain-storming, rapid development, etc will mean more work for the IT team. IT teams are typically fully utilized simply keeping things running and barely have time to think about being agile. Agile requires IT to work differently, leverage different processes and follow different policies. IT leadership needs to support this change or it'll be status quo.

5) Agility requires IT to be creative. IT has to have the ability to think creatively and provide options when discussing solutions with the business. This creativity may make IT uncomfortable because it requires one to think outside the box. Engineering typically is more anchored on facts and figures than creativity.

6) Agility requires business acumen. IT must have business acumen. This means that IT understands both the business strategy, direction and vision as well as how the business operates, the business processes and policies. With business acumen, IT can actually proactively meet the business' needs. Without business acumen, IT is relegated to an order taker. Order taking is reactive and not agile.

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