What would you say to an exhausted executive that is looking for solutions to 21st century problems?

What would you say to an exhausted executive that is looking for solutions to 21st century problems?

I would start by asking them to question their core beliefs and assumptions.

I was working with a group of people this week, and from our conversations I could discern that they were agile in spirit, yet they missed the practical elements of what they should have been thinking.

The thoughts, insights, and actions a seasoned agile leader embodies.

When I asked these individuals what the top reason for pursuing agility might be, they answered with ‘a better utilization of resources’, which is the primary domain of project management.

Traditional project management is not about being effective, generating powerful outcomes that truly delight customers, and creating value throughout the value stream on a continuous basis.

It is an intense focus on resource utilization, with people being considered resources, and so the focus is on productivity and efficiency rather than value creation and effectiveness.

A focus on reducing costs.

These are not the reasons why agility is a great option for an organization. It is a mismatch.

We can prove, through simulations and through pilots, that when the focus of an executive is to keep the team as busy as possible, everything takes longer to deliver or achieve.

  • You are not focused.
  • You are attempting to deliver too many things.
  • You are not delivering value, you are just delivering stuff.
  • You are not empowering your team, you’re overburdening them.

And so forth.

We also witness that a short-term focus on cutting unit costs results in a long-term increase in costs.

Leadership teams and senior managers often find themselves under huge pressure from the board and powerful stakeholders to slash costs or pursue cheaper options when the data makes it clear that you not only lose organizational capability, you also end up spending more money in future.

Acquire the knowledge necessary to thrive as an agile leader

So, my first recommendation to an exhausted executive is to educate yourself on what great agile leadership looks and feels like, and learn how to be more effective whilst navigating complexity and uncertainty.


There are great agile leadership courses created by Scrum.Org such as the Professional Agile Leadership – Essentials and Professional Agile Leadership – Evidence Based Management courses, but I would recommend that you start small and build momentum.

Visit the X Agility YouTube channel for more of these short, sharp bursts of information and insight, and start to get a feel for what your options are and what an agile leader would do when presented with a circumstance or situation similar to yours.

Just acquire the knowledge associated with agile leadership and read through the case studies that support the business case for agility.

X Agility will also be launching an e-learning option for executives and leadership teams, so think about investing in that learning platform too.

Whether it’s conversations or videos, blogs or seminars, just take the time to acquire the knowledge and insights you need to help light the way when the world goes dark and stormy.

Partner with an agile expert.

Sometimes, an agility chef such as myself or an agile coach is a great idea to help support you in your pursuit of agile leadership capabilities.

An agile expert that can help you identify what options are available to you, what would be the best next step based on what you currently know, and what experiments you could design to learn and evolve in the future.

There is a vast body of knowledge when it comes to agile transformation, and so many of the answers already exist and we can simply point you in the right direction. At other times, your context is so unique that we need to cocreate the solution with you.

So, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed or lost, there are opportunities available to you and they are easier, more accessible, and more effective than you think.

The current system or way of working is setting you up for failure, and that’s where the stress and anxiety comes from, but there is a tested, proven way of working that unleashes agile capability and delivers the outcomes that matter most to executives.

Take the time to explore them, recruit the experts that can help you on that journey, and learn as you go. Learn through experiments and the data/evidence/feedback that is generated through those experiments.

Everything is going to be ok. Everything has the potential to be great. Hang in there.

About John Coleman

John Coleman has deep experience and expertise working with executives, #leadership teams and product development teams to achieve increased #organizationalagility and create environments where creativity and collaboration produce high-performance teams.

https://linktr.ee/johncolemanxagility – social and podcast links

https://linkpop.com/orderlydisruption – order training from right here

If you are interested in helping your team or organization achieve greater agility and want to explore agile training options, visit our training page.

If you value coaching and would like to work with a deeply experienced agile and executive coaching specialist, visit our coaching page.

If you are looking for an agile consultant that can help your leadership team identify an appropriate roadmap to organizational agility and take the most effective course of action in your agile transformation, visit our consulting page.

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Agile Leadership,Executive Agility
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