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Anatomy of Agile Enterprise

Janne J. Korhonen

Agility Starts Above the Clouds

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Can you feel the pace increasing? Is it hard to keep up with the speed? Is your organization too rigid, or do you feel in over your head yourself? You know you should be more agile and you may even have an idea of how, but somehow something gets you bogged down in the quicksands of day-to-day business.

Metaphorically, to be agile, you must rise above the clouds: beyond the comforting certainty of the present to embrace the uncertain contingencies of the future; beyond analytical reasoning to engage in dialectical inquiry. But where are you now, where is your team, where is your entire organization?

In the Forest - You don't see the forest for the trees, as the trees surround you. It is hard to see the bigger picture -- the forest -- and engage in positive change, when daily chores mount up overwhelmingly and priorities get muddled. The modus operandi is reactive fire fighting.

Above the Tree Line - You have managed to climb above the tree line and can see the forest. As you can see more objectively the activities you are involved with, you start to see areas of optimization and standardization. By getting the mundane tasks better in control and getting rid of useless tasks, you free up capacity to focus on value-add activities that require more discretion and judgment. What are your relevant projects and other commitments?

In the Clouds - You have reached the level of clouds and know the landscape up to that level: the whole operational work system you are involved with. You also start to see beyond the haze: you can extrapolate to the near future from the current trends. As the visibility upwards becomes clearer, you can start to consider alternative pathways to your goal: what are your areas of focus within which you want to achieve results and maintain standards?

Above the Clouds - You have climbed above the clouds and have a clearer view towards your future goals: what are the motivators in your current reality and what are the yet-to-come goals you wish to accomplish. Yet you can still see only one side of the mountain; maintain just one coherent view of the world. The climb here becomes progressively harder: each interval is unpredictable and unreliable, and you can only make more or less valid assumptions of what to expect. Only in hindsight can you determine if those assumptions were valid. You must keep in mind both the long-term destination and the requirements of the immediate situation.

On the Peak - You are on the summit and can see and consider the entire mountain: all the different facets of and perspectives to yourself and the organization. The air is thin, but the view is good. You can see the surrounding landscape in all directions far to the horizon: more clearly than before, you understand your current and potential future role within the environment as well as understand the influence of multiple factors (social, political, economic and technological). It is from this vantage point that you can start conceiving your next ascent.


Janne J. Korhonen provides insights into how information technology can be applied strategically to catalyze organizational change and responsiveness. Drawing from both theory and practice, he discusses agile enterprise and its governance.

Janne J. Korhonen

Janne J. Korhonen is an independent business and IT consultant,specializing in enterprise architecture, business process management,service-oriented architecture and pertinent governance models. He has over ten years of experience as an architect and consultant in a variety of extensive and mission-critical IT projects. With strong theoretical underpinnings, his consulting encompasses systemic co-development of business, organization and information technology.

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