Understanding the Three Agile Horizons
Ryland Leiton introduces us to the concept of Agile Horizons, a fundamental framework for navigating the complexities of business analysis in an agile environment. These horizons – Strategy, Initiative, and Delivery – represent different perspectives of focus and planning.
- Strategy Horizon: This is the macro perspective, where the focus is on overall goals and long-term direction. Like viewing from an airplane, this horizon provides a big-picture perspective, essential for guiding organizational progress.
- Initiative Horizon: This mid-level perspective acts as a bridge, connecting high-level strategy with practical implementation. It focuses on the execution of strategic initiatives, ensuring they align with broader objectives.
- Delivery Horizon: The most immediate of the three, this horizon is concerned with the day-to-day tasks and operations. It’s akin to being on the ground, handling the sprint backlogs and the nitty-gritty of project execution.
The Agile Planning Horizons are defined in the Agile Extension to the BABOK Guide, published by the IIBA – The International Institute of Business Analysis.
The Intersection of Nimbleness and Agile Methodologies
Fabrício and Leiton discuss ‘Nimble‘ – the ability of an organization to sense and respond rapidly and precisely to change. This concept is closely related to agility but emphasizes the capacity for quick adaptation regardless of the specific work methodology. Nimbleness is about sensing changes in market trends, customer preferences, or internal dynamics and responding effectively. This quality is essential in all three Agile Horizons but manifests differently at each level.
Role Differentiation in Agile Horizons
A critical question arises: Should the same individual manage all three horizons, or is it better to have different roles? Ryland points out that in larger organizations, it’s common to see distinct roles for each horizon due to the complexity and scale. However, in smaller settings, one might find the same person wearing multiple hats, navigating through each horizon effectively. The key lies in understanding the distinct requirements and approaches of each horizon, regardless of the organizational structure.
Adapting to Change Across Different Horizons
Adaptability is the essence of being nimble, and it plays out uniquely across the horizons.
- In the Strategy Horizon, adaptability might mean reassessing the business direction or overall goals based on new market research or shifts in consumer behavior.
- At the Initiative Horizon, it involves tweaking or overhauling specific projects or initiatives to align better with strategic goals or respond to unanticipated challenges.
- In the Delivery Horizon, nimbleness is about making quick adjustments to the workflow, processes, or specific tasks to address immediate issues or opportunities.
Ryland uses the analogy of a restaurant altering its menu to illustrate these concepts, highlighting the necessity of alignment and responsiveness at every level.
Practical Tips for Business Analysts
For business analysts operating in this dynamic environment, Ryland offers practical advice:
- Stay attuned to the distinct needs and challenges of each horizon.
- Develop a toolkit of techniques and strategies suitable for each level. For example, use agile frameworks like Scrum or Kanban at the Delivery Horizon, while employing strategic analysis tools at the Strategy Horizon.
- Always align your work with the overarching business goals, ensuring that your efforts contribute meaningfully to the organization’s success.
Ryland Leyton’s insights shed light on the intricate dance of agility and nimbleness in business analysis. Understanding and navigating the three Agile Horizons with an adaptive mindset is crucial for any organization striving for success in today’s dynamic business landscape. For those eager to delve deeper into these concepts, we highly recommend listening to the full Brazilian BA podcast episode featuring Ryland Leon.
- Connect to Ryland Leyton on LinkedIn
- Ryland Leyton Books on Amazon.com
- Being nimble – The Scalable Capability for Organizations to Sense and Respond to change; IIBA, 2022
- Other articles and videos about Nimble