The 2014 Word of the Year

Agility will be the 2014 Word of The Year. You’ll see it in how sportscasters describe Olympic athletes performing in Sochi next month. You’ll read about it in the Wall Street Journal when they describe how large companies are working to navigate the rapidly changing waters of the marketplace. And you’ll hear yourself telling your kids, family members and co-workers about why it is essential to be agile.

Agility is important today because the world has become more ambiguous. We no longer can rely on anything being exactly like it was, even from yesterday. And with changes happening so quickly, expediency has become a hallmark of how companies are using agile processes. I also think agility is a critical component of developing powerful resilience to life and work challenges.

The software industry uses “agile” principles for product development by calling all parties (developers, designers, subject matter experts) together for 2-week sprints where they clarify product requirements so that they speed up and refine the processes efficiently (see this video on how NPR is using Agile Processes)

While there are formal processes for organizational agility, what can the rest of us do to be more agile in our day to day work:

  1. Stop trying to be perfect. Most projects don’t require it and most people will think 85% is pretty good
  2. Make decisions and move on. Taking time delays our progress. Even if you are wrong, you can go back and correct.
  3. Be a learner. Learning new things distinguishes successful people from average people.
  4. Try new things. Whether going to the Opera for the first time or volunteering for that new project at work, take a chance on something new…anything
  5. Start small. Not everyone can be agile. It is a learned trait and one that may take time to develop.

My learning agility goal for 2014 is to move faster and more expeditiously. If you see me hanging around the water cooler and chatting this year, go ahead a give me a swift kick in the butt. Developing agility will be important this year, even if it is not always graceful.

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