Ah yes, agile, that buzzword that is being borrowed by so many parts of businesses! The word itself is full of promise, suggesting all kinds of good things, like flexibility, nimbleness, and adaptability.
Conversely, if you’re not agile, you’re clumsy, inflexible, and probably slated for disappearance in the near future. Some agile business continuity proponents borrow from the original agile manifesto drawn up by software developers to make a nifty, concise manifesto of their own.
Yet, while fossilised BC plans and attitudes have no place in successful BC management, we need to be careful not to slide the agile cursor too far over to chaos.
Here’s a sample manifesto for agile business continuity, suggested by Brad Grissom of Southwest Airlines:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Recoverability over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over assessment and analysis
- Flexibility over following a plan
As the original agile manifesto puts it, “while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.” The problems start when the items on the left are ascribed too much value, and the ones on the right too little.
With no plan, no process, or no structure, the consequence is chaos. Granted, this extreme situation is not what most agile business continuity fans would suggest, but in our enthusiasm to achieve business results, rather than simply be satisfied by activity, we must avoid throwing the planning and process baby out with the bathwater.
Indeed, to take the human analogy further, consider how muscles drive agility – and how useless they would be, if they weren’t supported by a relatively rigid skeleton. Nature had the agility thing figured out long ago, because bones in people are not fossilised, but living organisms with great strength to weight ratios into the bargain.
Business continuity processes, tools, documentation, assessment, analysis, and plans should follow the same model, supporting agility by a suitable framework, and albeit in a more gradual way incorporating adaptability and flexibility into their own structures too.