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In the movie City Slickers, there is a scene where Billy Crystal's character, Mitch, is riding on a horse along with Curly, played by Jack Palance.

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?

Mitch: (Shrugs shoulder) No. What?

Curly: [holds up one finger] This.

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don't mean s***.

Mitch: That’s great. But, what’s the "one thing?

Curly: That's what you’ve got to figure out.

Do you agree with Curly’s advice? Would this advice apply to business? If yes, what's the “one thing” for your Enterprise? Does it stay constant? Or does this “one thing” change with time and circumstances? Or do we end up chasing ever-shifting goals? What is your experience?

Perhaps, for most organizations and leaders, the answer would be that long term “one thing” should stay somewhat constant. It’s the stable beacon towards which the enterprise can move. The long term “one thing” is meaningful if it’s a higher-level vision with an impact for the whole organization. Of course, in the short-term day-to-day execution our focus can keep changing. This is the essence of Being Agile! Being Agile allows the leaders of an organization to evaluate the business frequently and determine what the “one thing” should be at that particular time! What short-term “thing” can enable success for long-term change initiatives.

Such agility is achieved by:

  • Adapting quickly to the real world interruptions and unknowns, working around obstacles, following a zigzag path if needed, instead of pursuing and obsessing over a pre-planned linear and sequential thinking
  • A mindset that plans for change and in-fact drives change instead of merely navigating change
  • BEING Agile vs merely DOING Agile. BEING Agile requires that the Agile mindset becomes a part of the enterprise culture. DOING Agile merely follows Agile methodologies and processes.

Enterprise Agility, that becomes a part of the corporate DNA, requires deep and lasting cultural change. BEING AGILE, therefore can be far more difficult but much more relevant than DOING AGILE! Where do you see your organization on this spectrum of DOING Agile to BEING Agile?