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Paul T Kidd's Agility Pages

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Must Read Agility Books

Must Read Agility Books

The three top books on agility:


Agile Manufacturing: Forging New Frontiers

book cover

Agile Manufacturing

Paul T Kidd

ISBN 0-201-63163-6 (Hardbound)
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Publication Date: June 1994

Information about this book can be found here as part of Paul T Kidd's home page.


The Agile Virtual Enterprise: Cases, Metrics, Tools

Book Cover

The Agile Virtual Enterprise

H.T. Goranson

ISBN 1-56720-264-0 (Hardbound)
Publication Date: June 1999

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The Agile Virtual Enterprise: Cases, Metrics, Tools


The Agile Virtual Enterprise: Cases, Metrics, Tools

Product Information: New ways to manage change and to compete in a rapidly changing business world are emerging under the concept of the agile enterprise. Agile is not the same as lean and mean. Agile organizations can be almost any size but what distinguishes them from their lumbering traditional business counterparts is the ability to read the environment and to react quickly. They can also be "virtual," meaning they can reconfigure themselves quickly and temporarily in response to a challenge, but then dissolve or transmute themselves into something else. Goranson explains how they do this and how your own organization can do it too. With fascinating case studies and a unique metric, Goranson provides insightful and timely answers. The result is essential reading for management at almost any level within every type of organization.


Preface: Why Study the Agile Virtual Enterprise?
Agility and the Virtual Enterprise 
How the Project/Book Was put Together

Chapter 1: Introduction
Agility Is Different

Chapter 2: An Historical Example
Military Research "Can D0's" and Dont's
A Review of Best Agile Practices
Some Lessons Learned

Chapter 3: The Social Factor
Role of Culture as an Agent

Chapter 4: Cultural Memes
The English and French Engineering Paradigms 
Lessons for Management Metrics 
Law Follows Engineering

Chapter 5: Empirical Principles of AVEs
High Concept in the Virtual Enterprise 
High Concept in Organizing the Virtual Enterprise 
Feature-Based Manufacturing
Three Visions of the Future 
The Bottom Line

Chapter 6: Agility and the Defense Industry
ManTech, Movies and the Spruce Goose 
The Need for Agility 
Necessity of Government Investment 
The Advanced Research Projects Agency 
Why We Were Sponsored 
The Story So Far

Chapter 7: Definitions
Virtual Enterprise 
Types of Change

Chapter 8: What Agility Is Not
Lean Manufacturing and Agility 
The Agile Virtual Enterprise and Electronic Commerce 
Flexible Manufacturing 
Static Business Practices
Techie Solutions

Chapter 9: Issues
A Tool Strategy 
Summary of the Method 
Limits of our Approach 
Agility Forum and A3 Agility

Chapter 10: The Agile Virtual Enterprise Reference Model
The Reference Model 
Infrastructure Elements 
Infrastructure 0bservations 
Best Agile Practice Examples

Chapter 11: Communicative Acts and Information Theory
Leveraging Information Theory 
Communicative Acts 
Modeling by Communicative Acts 
Parallel Trends in Theory 
Bottom Line

Chapter 12: Examples
Use of the Metrics 
An Example 
Application in the Real World: A Case Study
Deeper into a Case Study 
Cost and Benef1ts

Chapter 13: Trust
An Example of the Problem
Inductive and Deductive Trust 
Mitigated Inductive Trust 
Agents and Channels 
Trust Metrics 

Chapter 14: Summary and Tools
Strategy("Threat" and Options) 
Dooley Graph Calculator 
Bibliography and References Index


Paul T Kidd's Review

Since 1994, at least nine books have been published dealing with the topic of agility or agile manufacturing. The first book, published in 1994 was my own, Agile Manufacturing: Forging New Frontiers (Addison-Wesley). The ninth, published in 1999, entitled The Agile Virtual Enterprise: Cases, Metrics and Tools (Quorum Books) is by Ted Goranson. I have all nine on my bookshelf and I have read them all! Books two through to eight (I won't mention them by name) all have one common specific feature - they are largely unrelated to each other. They are also not much related to the topic of agility either, but that's another story. Moreover, books two to eight are not much related to books one or nine. In fact there is a massive gap, nay gulf! However there is a common thread between the first and the ninth book.

In Agile Manufacturing: Forging New Frontiers I insisted (and I still do) that there were no agile firms. Also I was keen to point out that the notion that one could figure things out in advance and then design a strategy or an enterprise configuration based on this specification was, dead in the water. This approach simply does not work well when one is faced with significant change and uncertainty. In this kind of environment a whole new approach is needed. Ted Goranson's book makes a significant contribution to the development of this new way of working.

To be found in Ted's book are accounts of the development of virtual enterprise from the days of whaling and the importance of trust, lightweight agreements and case law in supporting the formation of agile virtual enterprises. Also to be found are discussions on what agility is and what agility is not, and why agility is important, along with comments about how agility relates to flexibility, electronic commerce and lean production. There is a detailed Agile Virtual Enterprise Reference Model and also descriptions of some agile virtual enterprise practices based on a number of case studies. From these case studies comes confirmation that agility tends to be isolated within specific parts of a firm and is often fortuitous and unplanned. These agile practices are not institutionalised and are not part of some grand agility strategy.

The book makes an important contribution to measuring agility. There is a detailed description of a modelling technique, based on communicative acts, that allows one to generate simple metrics that one can use to establish and compare the agility of different candidate processes that form part of the Agile Virtual Enterprise Reference Model. This is a novel and useful development.

This book contains a lot of substantial material and is very stimulating. The only minor point of criticism is that the description of flexibility does not make use of the frameworks and literature on that subject. I believe this would have helped to improve the positioning of agility in relation to flexibility. However, the theory of agility is still very much in the early stages of development, and this omission just highlights the fact that a significant amount of work still remains to be done on the development of agility theory.

I have no reservations about recommending this book. This is the first time that I have been able to do so, because quite frankly, most of the other books dealing with the topic of agility are embarrassments and do nothing at all to recommend the topic to industry managers. Ted Goranson's book is a milestone in the development of the topic and should help people to better understand the subject, as well as help them to deal with the real and pressing problem of unexpected change.

Paul T. Kidd

Response Ability: The Language, Structure and Culture of the Agile Enterprise

Book Cover

Response Ability

Rick Dove

ISBN 0-471350184 (Hardbound)
Publication Date: June 1999

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Response Ability: The Language, Structure and Culture of the Agile Enterprise


Response Ability: The Language, Structure and Culture of the Agile Enterprise


This is a professional management book that makes clear the concepts of business agility and responsiveness, and illustrates how readers can formalise these approaches in their organisation. The author applies models to all operational aspects of the organisation, and offers metrics, analytical frameworks, and exercises for examining how the organisation internalises and responds to change. The guide makes the concepts of agility and responsiveness actionable and includes both positive and negative examples from companies such as Microsoft, HP, Chrysler, DEC, IBM, Sears and GM. The study also incorporates a framework, metrics, and exercises.



Part One - Agility, Response Ability, and Culture

Chapter 1: Putting Agility in its Place
Basic Concepts
Agility Does Not Come in a Can
Key Concepts and Terms
Getting a Handle on the Issues
Knowledge Is What Fuels Change
Organizing for Change and Complexity
The Handles of Understanding and Action
You Are What You Eat
Moving On

Chapter 2: Change-Enabling Structure and Culture
Adaptable Structure
Adaptable Products
Adaptable Processes
Adaptable Practices
RRS Structure
adaptable Culture
Remmele Engineering – Engineered for Response Ability
Structure and Culture in Perspective

Part Two - Change Proficiency: The Language of Agile Enterprise

Chapter 3: Frameworks for Change Proficiency
Change Proficiency in Perspective
Measuring Change Proficiency
Quality of Change
Categorizing Change in a Framework
Proactive Dynamics
Reactive Dynamics
The Language of Change Proficiency

Chapter 4: Response Situation Analysis
The Problem with Problems
Establishing Response-Able Design Requirements –
Four Diverse Examples
Methodology – Defining Problems and Opportunities
with Response Situation Analysis
Final Notes on the Analysis Process

Part Three - Adaptable Structure: The Enabler of Agile Enterprise

Chapter 5: Enabling Response Ability
Control in Response-Able Systems
Response-Able Structure
General Principles of Response-Able Systems

Chapter 6: Response-Able Enterprise Systems
Who's in charge?
Examples of Response-Able Enterprise Systems
Case Stories as Models

Chapter 7: Systematic Design of Response-Able Systems
Systematic Design
A Preliminary Framework/Component Architecture

Chapter 8: Intuitive Design of Response-Able Systems
Intuitive Design
Defining the Problem
Encapsulated Implementation
Unique IT Approach Provides Unique Competitive Advantages
Systems Integrity Management

Part Four - Knowledge and Culture: The Way of the Agile Enterprise

Chapter 9: Waking Up the Enterprise
Change Proficiency Maturity Profiles
An Introduction to the Reference Model
Twenty-Four Critical Business Practices – The Reference Model Armature
The Maturity Model
How and Why to Use Maturity Modeling
Objectives and Teams
Methodology and Technique
A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing – Putting a Hard Edge on Soft Science

Chapter 10: Becoming and Managing the Response-Able Enterprise
A Perspective on Knowledge Management
Organizational Learning
On the Power and Nature of Insight
Local Metaphors – Knowledge Packaged for Diffusion
Realsearch – One Method for
Building the Response-Able Enterprise
Knowledge Portfolio Management – One Method for
Managing the Response-Able Enterprise






Some of Paul T Kidd's Books

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