Book Review by Taylor Berrett
Focus on business culture in the corporate world has exploded over the last decade. As startups transform entire industries and adopt radical and revolutionary business practices along the way, more and more companies are looking for the keys to an organization that runs like a well-oiled machine while keeping employees happy and engaged.
It’s this climate that has spawned the concept of the agile business— one that’s equipped to make changes quickly, adapting to changing business landscapes almost instantaneously.
And if there’s anyone who’s earned the right to lead the charge on the agile business approach as it applies to real business goals, Jonathan Smart—main author of Sooner, Safer, Happier: Antipatterns and Patterns for Business Agility. A business technologist for three decades, Smart began his career as a developer for investment banks and has since gone on to lead Deloitte’s Business Agility practice— dedicated to consulting businesses on how to deliver value sooner, more safely, and with less bumps in the road than ever before.
Smart has now parlayed his experience in business agility into the founding of the Enterprise Agility Leaders Network.
Smart also isn’t alone in delivering the agile framework to readers through Sooner, Safer, Happier. He’s also helped (to the book’s benefit) by Zsolt Berend, a fellow agility practitioner and trainer, as well as Myles Ogilvie, who’s been helping coach companies through major change initiates for over 25 years.
Together, the trio of agility acolytes makes an effective—and entertaining— case for the power of adopting an agile mindset to solve real problems.
The Power of Organizational Agility
What makes Sooner, Safer, Happier distinct from its peers in the business book industry— and worth reading alongside other, excellent resources on the agile approach— is that it emphasizes that agility in business isn’t an end goal, but rather a tool that can help businesses reach their ultimate goals when implemented effectively.
Smart and his co-authors highlight how the agile and lean approaches can empower their employees, managers, and teams to produce better, grow more closely knit as an organization, and create better products or services for their customers.
What Smart and his co-authors present is a better way of working— but it’s not an end goal in and of itself. The book’s consistent acceptance of this fact results in a mature, measured voice that isn’t caught up in the startup culture hype that’s derailed so many other companies that learned the wrong lessons from the success of other businesses.
Overall, Sooner, Safer, Happier is a resource not to be taken lightly. If you’re eager to discover how your business can deliver better value sooner, safer, and happier through increased engagement, inclusion, and agility, it makes for an excellent place to start.