Here’s a simple test: What do you typically say when you are telling someone you need to search for something online? I’m guessing for most people, we now say “I need to google it” – this is why ‘google’ is an actual word in the dictionary. We’ve associated the name of a company with the actual behavior or action that it encompasses.
We’ve done something similar to the word ‘agile’. We say things like “we want to implement agile” or “this is our agile program”, as if to say that agile is as tangible as Google is a search engine. The only problem is that, unlike Google, the word ‘agile’ represents many ideas and actions to so many people.
Agile not only describes an anticipated behavior, but it also represents several disparate methodologies, practices, belief systems, and more. The challenge of assigning so much value to this word is that we can easily misinterpret what we mean by it for our own organization.
Perhaps it’s better to describe the outcomes we expect from introducing and adopting new ways of working, than rolling it all up into one word.