Project Management

Requisite Agility applied in Project Management

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Requisite Agility applied in Project Management

This blog provides an overview of how Requisite Agility can be applied to Project Management.

In the age, of the convergence of AI, IoT, Blockchain, Cloud Computing, Robotics and AGV’s, as the pace of change and disruptions accelerates, requires us to be more open to the unknown and therefore to be more nimble, flexible and adaptive than ever before.

Project Managers have always been concerned with ensuring deliveries based on quality specifications, on time, within budget. In our new realities, requirements change in real-time. Our deliveries on time to forecast is meaningless if the competitors are faster. A budget only matters if the organization is synchronized in real-time changes with the markets and communities it serves.

In the Origin of Species, the biologist Charles Darwin described evolution as the “survival of the fittest”. The fittest did not mean the species with the most resources and health. The fittest species were the ones who were most resourceful and adaptive in the face of changes in their context and environment.

We need to distinguishing Agility and Agile. Agile is a specific set of tools and practices developed for small, stable, software teams using semi-autonomous teams, visual metrics and rapid iterations and release of usable code. Agility is the ability to think and act quickly and flexibly. It is a characteristic that exists in every living thing in the universe.

Agility as a characteristic by itself is not enough. For example, a professional boxer can have amazing agility in the gym. Lightning-fast hand speed, head, foot and body movement and an open adaptive mind. But he, she or they will lose when he is in the ring with someone who has greater agility.

Agility by itself is not enough. We need is Requisite Agility. Requisite means what is required or necessary in any given situation. In our boxing example, requisite is measured by the agility of the opponent. A new mindset is required in complex ecosystems and competitive environments.

Requisite agility is the capacity to make fast and flexible changes in relation to required context and conditions. The best example of requisite agility is our heart. It is constantly sensing and adapting in relation to changing circumstances. If it did not make these requisite adjustments, we would die.

There are at least five ways Requisite Agility (RA) can be applied to project management.

Waterfall Project Management

Requisite Agility in Project Management

Control and Obedience

Command-and-control cultures rely on top-down approvals of bottom-up status reports. The individual is the unit of production. In a Project Charter has the name of the person “accountable” which means who will be recognized, rewarded or punished. Regardless of systemic, structural and cultural impediments. The role of the supervisor is to plan, organize, lead, inspire, control and educate. (POLICE). Project Management enforces this culture.

Collaborative Intelligence
Sensors (human and technical) are in distributed networks (like our brain). The more nimble and more adaptive the connections between the parts the greater the intelligence, productivity and resilience in people, teams and organizations. Managers at all levels apply Gemba on a daily basis.

Teams are the unit of production. Individuals are accountable to the team they serve on. The team is invested in the success of every individual on the team. Project Management facilitates the nurturing and development of collaborative intelligence.

Functional Fragmentation

The organization is designed around horizontal control relationships of supply (organisational capabilities) and demand (customer needs).

Each downstream team or function is the internal customer of groups upstream, demanding their needs to be met. Customers make demands to fulfil capacities they lack. Project Managers are passive sensors and enforcers of budget, quality and time constraints that are out of their control.

RA transcends industrial concepts of supply and demand. The doctor is as dependent on the patient’s capability as much as the patient is on the doctors. In a healthy relationship both work together. Both are dependent on the synchronicity of the system as a whole. Project Managers are active systemic sensors engaged in continuous feedback, learning and adaptation. In a world Beyond Budgeting they are no longer helpless observers of a system designed out of their control.

Compliance-Driven Values

Values are written on the wall. Policies on ethics, fraud, fairness, equity and diversity are published.  People are expected to comply.  Project Managers police the compliance of abstract values. The unintended consequence of these sincere, good intentions is to create a low-trust, fear-based culture. But the only true source of integrity comes from within.

Seva is the Sanskrit word for being in union with and in service of humanity. Agile Coaches or Scrum Masters are servant-leaders. They are not in a parent-child relationship, they engage in mature adult-adult relationships based on mutual service and success. Project Managers are attuned to the presence or absence of Seva in themselves and the people they work with.

There have always been ‘trades’ so it was natural for the industrial age to force people into even deeper specialization. Disciplines define us. Power is centralized. Cross-functional teamwork, alignment and dependencies hold a fractured foundation together. But resources, rewards, metrics, and performance systems revert to the individual as the unit of production.  We work with each other in an inter-disciplinary manner but ultimately we are expected to “stick to our lane” and are measured by the success of our functional silo.


In the digital age technical specialization has become even more critical. We recognise that organizations are living systems, where the health is in the quality of relationships between the parts. Power is decentralized in networks of relationships.  The boundaries of industry sectors are blurring. Value streams are being aligned across eco-systems. Value is created in the white space, beyond the boundaries of the disciplines that define us. Being transdisciplinary reduces risk, increases innovation and makes us more resilient because it draws more value out of specialization.

Change Management

Change Management models based on the formula of “unfreeze, change, refreeze” are too flat footed in the era of digital transformation. Project Management adheres to Chronos (clock) Time: Deadlines and on-time-delivery are necessary but not sufficient. What is the value in meticulously tracking change requests in a proactive, team-based learning organization that is continuously and purposefully changing and improving?

Shaping Transitions
Project Managers (PM’s) adjust their approach across different levels of complexity. PM’s are trusted advisors in the business, not outsiders used as enforcers to ensure compliance. PM’s attune to how customers experience value. PM’s attune to the coherence and cadence of community or customer needs, desires and potential. They apply this awareness to engage in continuous, real time learning and development of people, teams and the organization as a whole.

PMI’s own research shows the dramatic difference in performance outcomes between organizations that apply agility and those that don’t.

 Requisite Agility enables organizations to deliver performance outcomes even higher than those who are only focused on agility, alone.

Posted by Kashmir Birk on: December 10, 2021 05:18 PM | Permalink

Comments (7)

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Luis Branco CEO| Business Insight, Consultores de Gestão, Ldª Carcavelos, Lisboa, Portugal
Dear Kashmir
Very interesting theme that brought to our reflection and debate
Thank you for sharing and for the "five ways Requisite Agility (RA) can be applied to project management"

Denathayalan Ramasamy Senior Manager| Satyam Venture Engineering Services Pvt Ltd Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
Different perception and need for the AI/IOT time; I especially endorse the concept Seva. (Sanskrit word for being in union with and in service of humanity)

Javor Mladenoff JavorMladenoff| Idemia Pa, USA
Very impresive reflection of modern concepts in project managing field. Amazing comparision between the "Waterfall PM" and "Requisite Agility in PM".

Maxim Shevelev Haifa, Ta, Israel
Thank you, very much!!

Kashmir Birk Principle| The True North Ontario, Canada
Thank you Luis, Denathayalan, Javor and Maxim! There is no greater liberation than being free of our own unconscious biases.

There are triggers and responses I make in my private and public life that have become automated, impulsive, instantaneous.

The same is true for waterfall project management. The same is true for so called requsite ability. The moment we think we have figured it out and all we need is the world to bend down and follow us blindly, that is the darkest day of all.


Karsten Zenk Project Engineer| *** Wolfenbuettel, Niedersachsen, Germany
Thanks for sharing. Interesting distinctions ⌝☺︎

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