Agile & Digital

Five ways to drive organizational agility

Full organizational agility is about sensing the market and adapting to change faster than those around you; and then being lean and swift in your delivery of that change. As Bank of Montreal (BMO)’s chief transformation officer, Lynn Roger, puts it, “speed is the new business currency.”

Managers should consider agility as an overarching principle guiding both strategic and operational activities.  Indeed, scholars argue that organizational agility can be broken down into five key components:

Tools and mindset

Forward-thinking organizations have already developed a number of different tools, or ways of working, to develop these five types of agility (see table):

So it is about having the right tools, but also the right mindset.  For example, Gallup measure agility by asking workers for their level of agreement with two general statements about their organizations:

  • In my company, we have the right mindset to respond quickly to business needs.
  • In my company, we have the right tools and processes to respond quickly to business needs.

Agility attracts talent

“Employees who strongly believe their companies are well-equipped to meet changing business needs are also far more likely to advocate for their organizations as employers; about two-thirds (64%) “strongly agree” that they would recommend their company as a place to work, versus just 19% of employees who do not view their companies as agile”, according to Gallup’s extensive research.

Into action

Spotify embodies agility – not just in their constant use of AB testing with customers for new product launches, but also internally.  For example, some team members recently questioned whether they needed the regular ‘sprint planning meetings’ that are a key feature of ‘Agile Methodology’ (see previous blog for the differences between this and organizational agility).  The team considered this, and came back with the answer, “Don’t know, let’s try without them and see how we get on.”

Organizational agility is something we should all strive for – not just the tech startups like Spotify.  However, we need to make sure we think carefully about our own context, culture and customers to figure out the best way to apply these agility principles – as the turbulent lean FastWorks programme at GE clearly demonstrates.

The digital transformation that is sweeping through industries everywhere means we all need to ‘step on the gas’ to keep up with our customers and competitors.  What will you do to build your strategic, customer, partnering, operational or learning agility today?

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