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Paul T Kidd's Agility Pages

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Agility - Glossary of Agility Terms

Glossary of Agility Terms


Agile Enterprise
An agile enterprise is a fast moving, adaptable and robust business. It is capable of rapid adaptation in response to unexpected and unpredicted changes and events, market opportunities, and customer requirements. Such a business is founded on processes and structures that facilitate speed, adaptation and robustness and that deliver a coordinated enterprise that is capable of achieving competitive performance in a highly dynamic and unpredictable business environment that is unsuited to current enterprise practices

Agile Manufacturing
Assumes the business environment is subject to conditions of continuous change, uncertainty and unpredictability. An Agile approach requires an ability to easily reconfigure strategies, structures and processes and to continuously review company market positioning and the business environment.

The ability to change and reconfigure the internal and external parts of the enterprise - strategies, organisation, technologies, people, partners, suppliers, distributors, and even customers in response to change, unpredictable events and uncertainty in the business environment. See also Internal Agility and External Agility.

Change Competency
The key meaning of agility - a core competency, being the ability to change and cope with massive uncertainties. Change competency is measured in terms of five performance metrics - time, cost, scope, stability and frequency.

Clock Speeds
The life cycle from concept to death for products, concepts, technologies etc. which varies not only across industries but within industries for different product components, services and enterprise techniques.

Core Competencies
Technologies and skills that (i) provide the potential to gain access to a wide variety of markets; (ii) offer significant enhancement of the perceived benefits of goods and services; (iii) are difficult to copy, and (iv) are not necessarily obvious to outsiders.

Enterprise Design
An approach to change which seeks to design individual enterprises to meet specified and changing requirements. Stands in contrast to the prescriptive "copy cat" best practice approaches.

External Agility
The ability to change and reconfigure the external parts of the enterprise - partners, suppliers, distributors, and even customers in response to change, unpredictable events and uncertainty in the business environment. See also Agility and Internal Agility.

Fractal Factory
German techno-speak for lean production. Involves repeating pattern of goals (self similarity) as one moves down from the top company level through departments to the individual. Based on well known practices and techniques - goal decomposition to develop local performance measures, team working, empowerment, process focus, etc.

A complex process involving the opening up of world markets to competition, the emergence of new markets, deregulation, the spread of industrial society and the wide variety of company and sector specific responses to this complexity.

Holonic Architecture
This is an alternative to the hierarchical architecture found in organisations and in technologies and manufacturing systems. Holonic architecture is not based on physical structure but on functions or tasks that need to be undertaken, and this description is independent of the means of realisation. Application of self similarity concepts means that the definition of any top level holon is replicated in all component holons.

Autonomous but cooperating units within a structure. Holons can be people or tasks, or technological sub-systems designed to behave as holons, or even whole companies.

Internal Agility
The ability to change and reconfigure the internal parts of the enterprise - strategies, organisation, technologies, and even people in response to change, unpredictable events and uncertainty in the business environment. See also Agility and External Agility.

Knowledge-based Systems
A computer programming paradigm where knowledge is separated from program control. This technique enables applications that involve developing systems that can mimic expert knowledge in well defined areas, or which can be used for more complex and less well defined areas to give advice about consequences of decisions, or add to knowledge, or provide expert advice from one domain to experts in other domains.

Lean Production
An enterprise paradigm concerned with doing more with less. Involves continuous efforts to eliminate waste of all kinds, such as inventory, stocks, time spent waiting, etc. Often confused with agility, lean enterprises are however fragile in that they only have limited capabilities to handle change, uncertainty and unpredictability, while agile enterprises are designed to thrive under such conditions.

Learning Organisation
Enterprises that systematically learn from mistakes, experience, experimentation etc. and then diffuse the new knowledge throughout the organisation.

Mass Customisation
Production of individually personalised goods and service at mass production prices. Enabled by concepts such as lean production, IT systems, late configuration, product modularisation.

Next Generation Manufacturing Enterprise
Post mass/lean production enterprise, operating is a post mass consumption society. The next generation enterprise is founded on the supporting strategies of agility, niche operations, knowledge based wealth creation.

Nimble Manufacturing
A term used by Ford as part of its Ford 2000 Program. As a term internal to Ford it could mean the same as agile, or lean, or flexible manufacturing or mass customisation. Ford 2000 itself however is a major reorganisation program which has involved the creation of a single global company from all of Ford's Automotive operations in North America and Europe, the reorganisation of product development into platform teams based upon a matrix structure, and the pursuit of a strategy of building more product variety off fewer vehicle platforms and exploiting niche markets for vehicles as well as volume vehicle production.

Open Systems Concept
Applicable to technology, management and enterprise systems. Implies a system extremely responsive to the systems environment, easily changed, and parts easily linked.

Ability to reconfigure enterprises, technologies, organisations, virtual corporations etc. in response to rapidly changing circumstances.






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