Why do we need to be Agile?

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One of the questions I’m still asked is ‘Why do we need to be Agile?’ I sat in a meeting recently with the CIO who has asked the same question of his business, Why were not capable of articulating what is it they wanted well enough upfront.

As said CIO had a military carer I thought a military context may help.

Imagine we had a land based target, an important piece of infrastructure like a bridge over a river running through a densely populated city. We have satellite photo, air surveillance of the area and intelligence on the ground.. We know that this bridge is key in the transport of supplies to unfriendly forces.. We also know that this bridge is constantly used by local civilian traffic. We’ve studied the area closely, we know when the bridge is busiest and importantly when it’s at it’s quietest. 

In such a scenario we can plan exactly how and when to hit the target, We can choose the time of day which will minimise risk to civilian traffic… We could even decide if we wanted to completely destroy the bridge or perhaps damage it enough to only prevent vehicle traffic but leave it open for civilians to be able walk across.

The point is that the target is stationary, we are able to make a plan and execute on it with a high probability of success. 

Now let’s take an other example… We detect an incoming jet fighter probably travelling mach 2+ it’s on a constantly changing unpredictable trajectory. Now my question is this, how are you going to put a plan together that will enable you to shoot down the target before it’s able to complete its mission?

I’d put it to anyone that the technique you just used to target a static land based target is not the approach you would choose in this situation. What you should do is launch a missile with ability to travel faster than mach 3, typically mach 4 or more and you would want a missile that can be steered and controlled to constantly point at the aircraft - and it’s that ability to move fast and change direction as required which enables you to bring that plane down. 

This is the reason why some projects where we have a clear visibility ahead and little likelihood in a change of circumstances can be planned upfront and economic benefits realised from the ability to plan and schedule on that certainty… And other projects will require the ability to move fast and constantly change direction in the light of new information.

Christian Miles