Tag Archives: how to develop organizational agility

Developing Organizational Agility


Our previous post shared insights as to why organizational agility is so important. The question is, how can an organization intentionally become more agile?

Clarifications First
When “organizational agility” is mentioned, the word “entrepreneurial” is often bandied about, but that’s not exactly the same as an agile organization.

Not all entrepreneurs are very agile, and an organization full of entrepreneurial types may too often go it alone and fail to leverage the organization’s knowledge and capabilities to make the most of the developing opportunities. But it is easy to see why entrepreneurial is
associated with agility, because vision, leadership, rapid decision making, and an intense customer focus are all necessary for agility.

Alternatively, organizational agility is the ability to identify the developing threats and opportunities to our mission and to quickly align or realign resources to thrive in the new environment.

It requires these two components:

  • The ability to see and understand the external developments and what they will mean for us
  • The ability to quickly adapt our resources to leverage the emerging opportunities and to avoid the looming threats.

These two key abilities together provide a profound competitive edge in an era of vast and accelerating developments and enable an agile organization to thrive.

That said, to develop and gain agility, leaders must build in their organizations four enablers:

  • Fast and effective information flows
  • Strong teamwork
  • Relentlessly streamlined and simplified processes
  • Flexible investments.

We will take a closer look at each of these enablers in our next post.

How to Develop Organizational Agility

Many people say they would like to make their organizations more agile, but few organizations have a formalized strategy to do so.

For many leaders, the planning and management methods mastered on their way up the ladder were designed and effective in a different time, when change moved at a much slower pace.  Others, as noted in our previous post, might lean more toward the entrepreneurial side, exhibiting high-levels of vision and enthusiasm, but not the team-building or other managerial skills necessary to develop a truly agile environment; and others may simply fail to stay the course.

To gain agility, today’s leaders must incorporate these four “agility enablers” into their operating model:

  1. Fast and effective information flows so their enterprise can emulate  Wayne Gretzky and “just skate to where the puck is going to be.”
  2. Strong leadership and teamwork to turn insight into action; people at all levels must be engaged, involved, and accepting of ongoing change.
  3. Relentlessly streamlined and simplified processes in order to handle the more rapid pace of implementation. If the processes that comprise the value stream are held together by patches, expediting, and human vigilance, or are full of inspection, rework, delays, over-specification, redundancies, excess inventory, complexity, etc. it will be very difficult to execute the necessary changes.
  4. Flexible investments, as acceleration of change makes acquired assets obsolete faster, so both the investment and hiring strategy should reflect the need for flexibility.