I had the pleasure this week of being part of a panel organised by Executive Circle on the topic of Organisational Agility : the new corporate discipline.
Throughout the two hour debate we had a really rich discussion which I found worth recapping. Any reaction is welcome !
In summary we discussed that Organisational Agility needs to mimic Business model agility. Technology is becoming a key enabler for creating more and more agile organisations. However the soft framework of Trust and Value strongly influences the speed of agility and how well team members engage. Engagement is key for collaboration which is the ultimate goal of an agile organisation. Finally, in a changing environment, individuals need to engage in self started individual learning in order to constantly adapt.
For more details, please read further
- Organizational agility needs to mimic Business model agility : the group was instantly aligned that the debate on Organizational Agility really should start with Business (model) agility. Why do we need Agility for ? Only then can we have the traditional discussion of “what is the ideal org structure”, how do we go from command and control to matrix to flat organizations. How do we stimulate virtual organizations with teams constantly regrouping themselves around virtual projects ? How do we stimulate internal employee mobility by limiting the number of job levels/broadening the bands. These are all key questions to enhance Agility but the questions really should be preceded by Agility to do “what” ?
- Technology is the backbone of Agility : over the last 10 years there is not one industry that was not affected by digitalization (the internet) in general. However, the coming 10 years will show significantly bigger disruption in many markets due to Mobilization of both people (applications on smartphones and tablets) and machines (the internet of things). Anticipating these disruptive changes of business model will depend on future leaders’ ability to understanding what key technology evolutions are and what this actually can change in either the business or operational model.
- Trust and corporate values put the frame around Agility: agility undermines the ability to rely on traditional “command and control”. Employees need to be empowered to make decisions with much more autonomy. Values are key to defining what is the right way to behave, whatever context and/or challenge at hand. Risk taking needs to be encouraged. This will only happen if there is a strong trust culture and that instals a reflex of learning from mistakes as much as we typically only want to learn from successes.
- Collaboration and engagement is the fuel for Agility : we all know that top down organizations, that results in top down plans do not create engagement. First of all, a top down approach delivers less effective plans because it misses the ability to capture the true diversity of it’s team. More importantly however, the collaboration addresses a human need for people to engage in different point of views, make compromises and thus naturally consider change as part of interacting with others. In a way, collaboration is a continuous change management process.
- Agile individuals are learning individuals : there is an interesting dichotomy between on one hand the often heard statement by team members that “the company does not invest into my personal development” and on the other hand a self started, self orchestrated learning that is triggered by a team member who often has put himself into a discomfort zone when taking on a totally new assignment. This self-motivated learning is in contrast with the first group which shows a very passive attitude awaiting a third person to intervene in their own learning motivation. This is why I believe that apart from the obvious task of helping employees building new competences the primary competence to install and stimulate is continuous self learning. At Mobistar we have installed a Lunch Tips & Tricks platform, we are stimulating e-learning and even pushing the tablet app “Flipboard” to help people make their own magazines for self learning on any topic.