Agility is defined as the ability of a company to react quickly and flexibly to changing market conditions, if possible in real time (cf. ). The implementation of agility can take place, for example, through agile methods. These are, among other things, specific processes and meeting formats that can make companies more agile according to the definition mentioned. Agility has been very popular for 5 years and the term has even been “burned” in some companies. Nobody can hear the sentence “We are doing it agile” there!

agile chaos
We are now doing it agile! – not everyone is enthusiastic about it!

Reasons for negative attachment to agility

But what can be the reason? Why do meeting participants smile when the word becomes agile or why do employees maliciously turn away as soon as agility appears in a sentence? The reason is that agility is often used as an excuse to blur the lack of methodology or the non-compliance with deadlines. You hear sentences like:

  • We’re agile – we’re done when it’s done
  • We are agile – I have to let the team do it
  • I can’t provide status because the team is agile
  • We are agile – there is no booth
  • We used to be really agile

Reading tip: Command agility? Does it make sense?

Agile is not The synonym for chaos

In the meantime, agility has unfortunately become a bad word in many organizations. The last sentence in particular: “We used to be really agile” shows that agility is often equated with lack of planning. But the problem is not the method but its half-baked implementation.

The following applies: Agile methods, if carried out correctly, leave no room for chaos. For example, there are clear deadlines. The agile method Scrum, for example, requires a usable product to be delivered to the customer every 2 weeks. The processes through the Scrum Guide are also completely clear and it is clearly defined which features are to be delivered in the next 2 weeks. It is by no means a chaotic procedure, but a strongly ordered procedure with the necessary flexibility for market-related changes.

I notice again and again: Agile methods are clear and binding. They also need discipline and a sense of responsibility.

Agility is not a lack of plan

Managers in particular like to use agility as an excuse for a lack of strategy documents. Of course, in times of digitization and complexity, it is not easy to clearly define a strategy, but it is possible to define guard rails and guidelines.

The only thing that helps against unplannability is adherence to the method, and even in fog we don’t leave without a plan. We know our goal and the rough way to get there. It is clear that by no method will we set and adhere to a 5 year plan. But a rough plan can be defined and, in short periods of time, tested, changed, adjusted and defined more finely by management. How to steer through the fog of the complex world!


Agility is an important part of companies. Of course it is not the holy grail as described in the picture and the solution of all problems, however, agility can help to find meaningful solutions in complex environments and to break new ground. In no case should it be equated with chaos or structured chaos.

Therefore try to understand the basic idea of agility exactly and limit uncertain subject areas with goals and values. Describe complex content with the help of guidelines and see management as a beacon that can shine the direction, but does not dictate how an employee can achieve the goal. But stand by each employee with words and deeds and do not hide behind agility.

Reading tip: Studies on agility

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I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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