Davos 2020: Reflections on Doing Agile Right

Bain's Sarah Elk and Darrell Rigby share the benefits of transforming into an Agile enterprise.


Davos 2020: Reflections on Doing Agile Right

Successful leaders have two goals: to run their businesses efficiently and to adapt them for the future effectively. Sarah Elk and Darrell Rigby, authors of the upcoming book Doing Agile Right, discuss how Agile can help executives balance these two goals to better serve customers, employees and shareholders.

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Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos

Agile has the power to transform work—but only if it's implemented the right way.

Read the transcript below.

SARAH ELK: This morning, we had the opportunity to host a breakfast on behalf of Bain. Our new book is coming out at the end of May, and this was our first big event for the book. We had about 150 people.

It was a really great morning, lots of energy in the room, lots of excitement about doing Agile right. And that's the title of the book and the topic that we presented. And Darrell, you did a fabulous job warming up the audience and getting everybody going.

DARRELL RIGBY: Yeah, the warm-up routine, that's me.

But it was fun, really. I had a great time. I think there's something about Davos, this spirit of optimism, and hope, and looking for the future.

And this year in particular in Davos, we're hearing a lot of talk about serving multiple stakeholders.

That it's not just all about financial results. And you know, that's Agile, really. We're talking about what you can do for customers, what you can do for employees, what you can do for shareholders, what you can do for the community, for the society. And so I think it's a perfect fit, actually, with Agile concepts and values.

SARAH ELK: I think what we're hearing is that a lot of people are struggling with figuring out how to do it right. And I think that's where the experience that we've had with clients can really bring a lot of insight in how to go about it. It is a topic that a lot of people have trialed. And so there is some experimentation out there. But it actually—you have to change a lot of things about your operating model, in particular, some of the things we heard in the Q&A are what we hear from our clients.

It's leadership. It's culture. It's a lot of the softer side in addition to things like your funding model and how your overall management system works.

DARRELL RIGBY: I think most leaders realize that in order to be successful, they have to do two things. They have to run the business efficiently. And they have to change or adapt the business effectively to be able to compete in the future. And it's that balance that is really difficult. I think a lot of people think, "Well, either we're going to be bureaucratic or we're going to be Agile. You can't do both."

But the truth of the matter is you can do both. And that's what Agile is great for, I think, is teaching leaders how do you create this balance, how do you both run and change the business in ways that are good for people, and customers, and financial results. It's a lot of fun.

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Bain at Davos

For 17 years, we have been a strategic partner of The World Economic Forum in its mission to improve the state of the world by shaping global, regional and industry agendas.


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