What is an Agile person?

Agile people have a propensity to seek improvements, are more willing to consider information that is at odds with preconceived notions, and are more willing to be different and take risks – at least according to David Alberts.

Liz Keogh asked me a good question the other day … if I’m an Agile Programme Manager then which bit is Agile: me, the team, or the programme? The answer was all three but it got me thinking about what makes a person “Agile”.

I would have defined an Agile person in terms of behaviours consistent with the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto but I recently found something that takes a different approach.

David Alberts writes for the US Department of Defense Command and Control Research Center. He wrote a brief paper entitled “The Agility Imperative” about Agility in the context of security and war. Despite his focus I find David’s his language fairly universal so thought it worth sharing what he has to say on Agile people:

Agile people conceive and approach the world and their assigned tasks differently from those who are less agile. In general, agile people have a propensity to seek improvements, are more willing to consider information that is at odds with preconceived notions, and are more willing to be different and take risks. These basic characteristics can be enhanced or suppressed by education, training, and culture. Unfortunately, many organizations, both large and small, suppress agility-enabling characteristics.

David Alberts, Agility Imperative

I’ll leave the defining features of an Agile team or programme to another day.

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