Why Agile Matters

We saw in the last chapter how Apple were agile. Let’s look a bit closer.

The Apple Story

In 2001, after years in the wilderness, Apple found massive success with the iPod. But they were worried that companies like Nokia and Motorola would soon bundle MP3 players with their mobile phones, and that this would crush the iPod.

So Apple looked at making their own phone with a built-in iPod.

Apple realised something that their competitors didn’t: advances in hardware meant that phones could be made way easier to use.

In 2007 the iPhone was launched. It’s been one of the most successful products of the last 50 years.

Apple adapted to the changing environment faster that it’s competitors. Apple was more agile.

The same is true of Facebook, Amazon, Google and Netflix.


Facebook developed killer features to overtake it’s main competitor, MySpace.

In 2007, Facebook enabled users to upload videos, while MySpace launched MySpaceTV. Facebook’s videos were social. MySpace’s videos were traditional “broadcast”.

In 2008 Facebook become the most popular social network.

Facebook adapted more successfully than MySpace.


Amazon realised that the web changed the rules of retail. Companies like Walmart optimised around limited shelf space, but the web made shelf space infinite. (Detail here).

Amazon adapted to the web faster than Walmart.


Agility matters because products compete in a landscape that is constantly changing, and changing unpredictably.

Hardware evolves. The web evolves. Algorithms evolve. Consumer trends change. Your competitor changes direction. Covid happens. Brexit happens. The 2007 global financial crash happens. The 2000 dot-com crash happens. And so on.

Under these conditions, being agile matters because quickly adapting to change is what makes products successful.

NEXT: How To Measure Agility

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