Steve Denning’s new book, The Age of Agile, was published on February 8, 2018, Seven years in the making, the book is the definitive guide to the emerging management paradigm for the 21st Century. Order Steve’s newest book here.

Here’s what the book is all about:

An unstoppable revolution is now under way in our society, affecting almost everyone. Organizations are connecting everyone and everything, everywhere, all the time. They are capable of delivering instant, intimate, frictionless value on a large scale. They are creating a world in which people, insights, and money interact quickly, easily, and cheaply. For some, the revolution is uplifting and beautiful. For others, it is dark and threatening.

Dazzling examples of the new way of running organizations are everywhere apparent with firms like Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Lyft, Menlo Innovations, Microsoft, Saab, Samsung, Spotify, Tesla, Uber and Warby Parker. At the same time, what is lifting some companies is killing others, as market leading bureaucracies miss game-changing transformations in industry after industry.

In Steve’s 2010 book, The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management, he set out to introduce Agile thinking to general managers. Since then, Steve has been studying the rapidly expanding implications in many different sectors, as whole organizations join the growing global movement. For the last couple of years, he has been leading a learning consortium of major organizations that are passionate about discovering together what these changes mean for their goals, principles, and practices. The current members include Barclays, Cerner, CHRobinson, Ericsson, Fidelity Investments, Microsoft, Riot Games, and Vistaprint. This book is in part a progress report on their discoveries.

The Age of Agile unpacks the ground-breaking ideas and practices that are remaking the foundations of human organization. This isn’t just a methodology or process to be implemented within the assumptions of current management practice. It involves a different concept of what an organization is and how it must operate

The Age of Agile demystifies the fuzzy topic of Agile management through three laws:

  1. The Law of the Small Team shows how in a VUCA world, big and difficult problems need to be disaggregated into small batches and performed by small cross-functional autonomous teams, working iteratively in short cycles, with fast feedback from customers and end-users.
  2. The Law of the Customer flows from the epic shift in power in the marketplace from seller to buyer, and the need for firms to radically accelerate their ability to make decisions and change direction in the light of unexpected events. It amounts to a Copernican revolution in management.
  3. The lynchpin of Agile management is the Law of the Network, which shows what’s involved in making the whole organization Agile.

Strategic Agility: The Age of Agile also sheds light on the dark secret of Agile: most Agile transformations don’t make money. Thus many organizations have embraced Agile management on the assumption that if they upgrade existing products and services through cost reductions, time savings or quality enhancements for existing customers (i.e. operational Agility), they will realize financial gains. Owing to increased competitive pressures, this assumption often proves incorrect and consequently top management support for Agile often flags. It turns out that major financial gains are more likely to come from Strategic Agility, i.e. generating innovations that create entirely new markets and that turn non-customers into customers.

Strategic Agility is the next frontier of Agile management. Instead of being slightly better than everybody else in a crowded and established field, a firm practicing Strategic Agility creates new markets and dominates them. The profit margins are bigger, and the value to society is often larger. The book shows what’s involved in achieving Strategic Agility, including a playbook for systematically generating market-creating innovations and the necessary shift in culture that is required.

Agile headwinds: The Age of Agile offers a searing critique of the flawed management practices that constitute key constraints to implementing Agile management, including the pursuit of maximizing shareholder value as reflected in the stock price, which even Jack Welch has called “the dumbest idea in the world”; the pervasive use of share buybacks to extract value, at the expense of creating value; the focus on cost-oriented economics and the resort to backward-looking strategy.

Rethinking 20th Century management, The Age of Agile is a landmark book that describes the management paradigm for the 21st Century. You can pre-order the book now.

What the experts are saying about The Age of Agile:

  • “Reporting from the front lines, Steve Denning takes you deep inside the management revolution that is being led by the apostles of Agile. In this insightful book, he unpacks the ground-breaking ideas and practices that are remaking the foundations of human organization. The Age of Agile is an indispensable guide to building an organization that can thrive in a world of unrelenting change.” – Gary Hamel, Professor, London Business School and Director, Management Lab
  • The Age of Agile pulls off a rare feat. It demystifies a fuzzy topic, delivers a stinging critique of flawed management practices, provides practical advice, and is an enjoyable read. A great book.” – Scott Anthony, Managing Partner of Innosight and lead author of Dual Transformation
  • “This eye-opening book challenges us to think, not just about which technologies will shape the future, but about which organizations will be able to handle-and develop-them. It describes the vanguard management paradigm for the 21st Century and locates it in the changing context of the world economy.” – Carlota Perez, Author of Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages
  • “An invaluable guide to transforming the old–unadaptive hierarchical management — into the new — the customer-involved, team-empowered company capable of continuously re-inventing itself.” – Robert M. Randall, Editor-in-Chief, Strategy & Leadership, and editor/author of The Portable MBA in Strategy
  • “Steve Denning’s The Age of Agile is a call to arms for why we must improve our innovative performance and a manifesto for making that happen. This manifesto shows how enterprises with essential behaviors, tools, and processes can liberate the genius of staff to create great value for their customers, enterprises, investors, staff, and society.” – Curtis R. Carlson, CEO Practice of Innovation, LLC, CEO of SRI international 1998-2014

Join The Conversation On Twitter:

As part of the book launch, I’ve been engaging in some really interesting Twitter discussions about Agile and leadership and I’d love to get your thoughts as well. Follow me on Twitter (@stevedenning) to add and contribute your ideas to the conversation.

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