Organisational agility, by which I mean anticipating and organising resources around change in order to keep up with trends and developments in tech, has become a priority for business. It is becoming clearer that successful organisations navigate and even promote continuous change to remain agile, resilient and relevant.
How can an organisation establish this organisational agility?
Here are four ways we’ve found from our research and hands on experience.
It’s about alignment – not hierarchy. The days of the HiPPO (the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) dominating are being left behind in organisations that recognise different challenges and circumstances demand different skills and knowledge.
Boards are empowering Subject Matter Experts to take on projects that play to their expertise, often building around them non-hierarchical teams that may only exist for the duration of the project.
This kind of flexibility places leadership at the heart of a project, enabling them to draw on the relevant parts of the ecosystem when needed, whether they are advisors, associates or employees.
Project teams and leadership must be fit for purpose. Often this means bringing in the right people from outside the organisation when they are needed, rather than assuming expertise is available in-house or that leaders will cope with the time demands required for both change and Business-as-usual.
Equally, skills and expertise based on historical knowledge of ‘as is’ are not necessarily the same skills and expertise needed to take the organisation on to ‘to be’.
Diverse leadership teams make for better decision-making and greater agility. This is ever more necessary, as established brands see small start-ups taking market share and long-standing companies suffering or disappearing completely.
“Complete leadership is complementary leadership: each member of the leadership team bringing high levels of skill to part of the broader leadership capability set. In this way, a team can respond to the varying demands placed on it.”
The process of established organisations changing working practices is often compared with changing the course of a super tanker. It’s always been slow and inconvenient. But now, for firms faced with young, nimble, technologically savvy competition, it can be disastrous.
Less than a decade ago, an agile culture was a strong form of competitive advantage. More recently it has become a simple hygiene factor. Being agile is about a constant state of change readiness, recognising that change will always be necessary, and pre-empting the need for change rather than reaching a point where transformation is in response to a crisis.
In summary, being agile is not a process to follow, it is a mindset that, coupled with the right objectives, empowers progress. Achieving this requires:
- agile IT implementation and the culture needed to support this approach.
- agile talent management – knowing when, and when not, to bring in external resources to support your transformation.
- creating an agile culture. Organisations that invest in creating agile cultures soon recognise that testing and adapting is an ongoing process rather than a one-off end-to-end process. Nowhere has this become more apparent than in the ongoing roll out of new technological solutions.
‘Agile’ defines a culture, a modus operandi, and isn’t just a process, or something to ‘do’. Adopting an agile mindset and culture, when run alongside organisational objectives, can be a powerful driver for successful change. And in environments characterised by constant upheaval and radical change, we need to ensure organisations are fit-for-purpose and able to respond effectively – by developing these appropriate, more agile ways of working.
To discuss how to create an agile culture for your organisation, contact Ruth Kaye at Change Associates on 0207 101 1979.
Last updated: 26 Oct 2018