Radical Agility As A Business-Technology Principle


I track enterprise software application development & data management.


April 4, 2016

The Agile manifesto was laid down in 2001 to detail the core principals of agility with a CAPS A describing how software (and, indeed, any project) could be built inside a delivery methodology that positively embraces change, early delivery and changing requirements.

Fast forward to 2016 and we find European e-commerce company Zalando trying to tell us that really, today, it’s all about Radical Agility with both a CAPS R and a CAPS A.

CAUTION: We know how easy it is to spin ‘puff & fluff’ and just how hard it is toactually coin a real legacy saying in the information technology industry — all you have to do it stick “what I like to call” in front of a quirky term and you’re off, so please beware.

Zalando SVP of tech Philipp Erler isn’t put off by this cautionary note; he claims that his team’s work inside the Radical Agile development methodology have assisted the company in increasing its revenue 34% to exceed £2.25 bn (US$ 3.20) between 2014 and 2015.

What is Radical Agility?

Radical Agility is a described as a software development methodology (that could ultimately, potentially, conceptually be applied to other business practices at a wider level of openness) where the business splits its developers into small autonomous teams that are free to use any programming language (outside of tech, that could be any workflow or operations system perhaps) or technology to create their code in, as long as they reach the stated goal.

To add to this openness, under the Radical Agility creed, employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time on personal development projects. But let’s remember that ‘encouraged’ is a long way from ‘enforced’ i.e. the practicality of Google’s much fancied 20% policy has been questioned before now in the media.