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How extending Agile to business processes fosters innovation, growth

Pollyanna Pixton believes that businesses should adopt the tenants of the Agile development methodology, and she explained why when I met her last week in San Francisco. We also talked about the new book she co-authored that lays out the Agile business process methodology.

She first explained how she came to that belief. Her early work involved developing control systems for electrical power plants throughout the world. She even created systems for and spent time on oil rigs. On one of those projects, she was asked to be the team leader. Immediately, she chose to be a collaborator and not a master.

“I’d seen the problems inherent in top-down, command-and-control leadership, which doesn’t nurture talent or foster innovation and often stymies rapid growth of an organization,” Pixton told me.

Her first venture as a leader was not only successful, it stoked her interest in business leadership. As a result, she founded Evolutionary Systems in 1996, a business consulting firm specializing in collaborative leadership. She put her experience on her own and with Evolutionary Systems’ projects into the book she co-authored, Stand Back and Deliver: Accelerating Business Agility (Addison-Wesley).

“The tools in our book help leaders give ownership and then stand back and let the teams and the talent in an organization deliver on their goals and meet users’ needs,” Pixton said.

Here are a couple of video excerpts of my conversation with Pixton. In the first one she offers tips for winning over Agile-resistant staffers.

Next I asked her about mistakes she sees in organizational processes, even in organizations that have adopted Agile.

After I read this sample chapter of Stand Back and Deliver, I sat down and read the whole book in one sitting. The content is rich and the format easy to read. Best of all, there are a lot of drawn-from-real-life examples, something that – for me, at least – makes the discussion of processes more understandable.

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