Clarification Of Top-3 Misused [Frequently] Words

Let’s provide some clarification for the top-3 (there is really no official data to back this up, other than a gut feeling) misused, and frequently abused, words: “agile”, “scaling”, “enterprise”.

Agile – if this word cannot be seamlessly substituted with some of its direct synonyms (adaptive, light-footed, lithe, nimble, fast-reacting), it is likely that it is used incorrectly.  For example, an “agile process” can only be agile if it can be easily changed, modified or simplified, on-demand.  “Agile team” – is a team that should be able to react quickly and easily to a fast-changing situation or market demands. If the above suggested substitution leads to a loss of meaning, the use of “agile”, as the term, is likely incorrect.

Scaling – using the original, Euclidean geometry definition of this word, scaling is a linear transformation that enlarges (increases) an object by a scale factor that is the same in all directions.  In our case, such “object” could be a team, process, experiment, or anything else that we wish to have more of.  Clearly, we want more of good stuff, not bad stuff. Then if so, when we say, we want to scale a process, we assume that the original process was good. When we say, we want to scale scrum, we assume that dynamics of a single scrum team are good. If we don’t have goodness to begin with, and we attempt to scale it, how can we have goodness at scale?

Enterprise – it does not automatically mean huge. A relatively small organization (e.g. 50-100 people) is an enterprise, if it includes multiple organizational dimensions, such as HR, legal, finance, vendor management, technology, operations, sales/marketing, etc. At the same time, a 500-person IT department alone is not an enterprise. It is just an organization silo.
We frequently hear people say “we need enterprise-level transformation/operating model/methodology changes”, while focusing mainly on technology and leaving behind many of the above mentioned dimensions.  It creates an illusion of enterprise-wide impact because such efforts are very siloed, limited and locally optimized.

Now, imagine if all three of the above mentioned words were used together, in the same sentence or phrase: “Enterprise Agile Scaling“:
If the individual words were misused, imagine the magnitude of a negative impact  the whole phrase  :(.

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