Organizational Agility: The Art of Re-Invention

The more I read about innovation and how it is influencing us day by day… influencing what we like, what we search for, how we form opinions and how we make decisions, the more I become super charged with the importance of how this is critical in how organizations are managed and how people are at the front line.

In my view, at the center of this is culture.  Whether you are part of a start-up, a home grown business or a corporate enterprise; culture plays a key role in not only influencing bottom line, but also business predictability, speed of response to market change, changing consumer needs, or customer sentiment; you name it.

The name of the game is agility.  How fast you’re able to think and innovate, succeed, fail, learn, change and innovate once more.  The meaning of innovation here is not only relevant to a specific industry, product or size of business.  It is innovation in how work is done, how processes and outputs are challenged to evolve and how the culture of any business transforms.

If you research the term ‘organizational agility’ you will come to the conclusion that it is all about adaptability to change.  How resilient an organization will withstand generational change, autonomy of lifestyle, how information is accessed, analyzed and consumed; these form some of the pieces of the puzzle.

When you think about this in the context of organizations, building successful businesses that are able to come up with strategies that will yield the biggest return on investment while maintaining stability is hard.  Agility requires stability.  As organizations identify the why and start venturing on the how, this is where the core skills of being nimble, communicative and adaptive kick-in.   

Among my favorite readings around this subject is a study prepared by the World Economic Forum1 that highlights the core skillet principles for Leaders as they venture into transformative, un-treaded grounds, anxious from what they might be faced with.  Among some of the highlights of this study are the following fundamentals ….

  1. Awareness: how strategically aware and prepared is your organization?  How relevant is this to the core of what you do?

  2. Organizational Agility:  adopting organizational structures that are lean and adaptive and augmenting your workforce with the technological tools that will help them manage information and data and make changes as they go.  Does the organization allow for human innovation and creativity?

  3. Continuous Learning:  does the culture of your organization value and promote a culture of risk taking, learning as you go and course correcting, as need be?  The best learning environments are created when we try new things, learn from others and adapt as we go.  I will carefully use the word ‘blended learning’ in my description, but it does hold true; learning with every encounter, out of every situation and creating work environments that encourage and reward learning from others.

  4. Leadership Adaptability:  leaders who are open and adaptive to changing their leadership style and approach to leading as the world of work changes.  Being more inclusive of diverse ideas and ways of thinking, gender and generational inclusion, as well as driving a culture of coaching.

  5. Empowered Employees:  empowerment shaped in the internal policies and procedures of how decisions are made.  Being able to offer technologies that free up employees from routine tasks and puts information in their hands to be able to make quick and information based decisions.   

Organizations with the mindset of creating and enabling the culture of agility generate a competitive advantage that forms their brand and is reflected in how effective, efficient and rewarding it will be for their business.