3 Factors for Success in an Agile Organization

By Andy Sio
March 1, 2018

In a world that’s constantly evolving with new technology, updated ideas, and evolving trends, it can be difficult for companies to map a successful strategy for the future.

Planning too far ahead increases the chances that your targets will become outdated and irrelevant before you’ve ever had the chance to reach them. That’s why today’s companies are investing so much time and effort into “agile” strategies for business capability.

Agility in an organization doesn’t mean giving up on planning processes entirely. Instead, it’s about making sure that there’s enough space in your current strategy for your business to evolve and change direction according to the ever-evolving needs of the market, and the customers within it.

The problem is, while many brands recognize the value of business agility, few have the guidelines in place that allow them to reap the benefits of a more versatile company model.

The Challenge of Organizational Agility

According to a global survey conducted by “McKinsey”, most ventures are struggling to achieve agility in their business structure. In other words, they don’t have the resources in place that would allow them to reconfigure their strategies, people, and processes as quickly, and efficiently as possible.

Many of the respondents in the study suggested that although they understand the value of agility in the workforce, they haven’t yet been able to implement agile ways of working. For some, the problem comes from an ineffective company culture. For others, the issue comes down to poor leadership strategies.

Why Your Organization Needs to be Agile

No matter which industry you explore, people in agile companies generally report a better performance than those who struggle with organizational agility. This is particularly true for those in volatile environments like IT and AI.

To become effectively “agile”, an organization needs the perfect balance of stability and dynamism. In other words, you’ll need a solid focus on the goals that you want to accomplish as a business, as well as the ability to respond quickly to challenges and opportunities that might arise in your niche.

Since McKinsey found that less than a quarter of their respondents are “agile”, we thought it might be useful to put together a list of factors that companies should embrace when they want to achieve more “agile” success.

1.Resilience and Adaptability

According to McKinsey’s survey, the most significant challenges that occur during agile transformation are linked to corporate culture. There’s a misalignment in the way that people work every day, and the efforts that must be made to prepare for an ever-changing future. Agile transformations are more successful when they’re supported by strong cultural changes too, designed to give your employees a new perspective on their role in the organization.

To prioritize team performance in an agile world, start making changes from the top down. The leaders in your venture should be able to demonstrate the behaviors and activities they expect from their employees. It might be helpful to put formal strategies in place to reinforce the changes you make, by incentivizing your people to demonstrate new behaviors, and rewarding them for their hard work.

2.Focus on a Clear Goal

Studies show that agile companies succeed best when the people within a team are working towards a shared purpose and vision. When everyone in your organization knows exactly what they’re striving to achieve, it’s much less likely that they’ll be distracted or overwhelmed by changes in the industry.

If you don’t already have a meaningful and clearly-communicated vision for your agile team, it might be time to sit down with key employees and discuss what you hope to achieve over the next three months. Working on targets that are no longer than 90-days away can support the agile framework, and ensure that you’re able to respond quickly when something changes in your sector.

3.Have A Solid Plan for Implementation

Finally, experts suggest that the people who struggle most with organizational agility, are those who don’t have an actionable implementation plan in mind. While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for business capability, the best place to start is by looking at the parts of the organization you most want to transform, and how you can make sustainable changes to those areas.

For instance, you might prototype certain alterations before you scale them throughout the company, or change simple foundational elements before you stray into more complicated areas. Once you’ve gotten to the bottom of what you want to change, you’ll be able to start thinking about which agile practices you need to strengthen to achieve better agility.

Finally, determine the time-frame you need, and the resources you must invest in to bring your transformation to life. The more detailed your plan is, the more manageable the change will be.

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