Organizational Agility is the appropriate balance of responsiveness – speed to innovate, iterate and pivot while providing the people who matter (employees, customers, board members) enough stability to engage, perform and excel. Many of our clients are striving to find the right balance. The newer tech firms, now reaching critical mass and velocity are retooling their people approach – introducing practice and processes that weren’t tolerated 18 months ago. It usually entails turning over the HR team, at least the lead person. About 30% of my clients have recently or are in the process of changing the person in that key position.

Among our clients in older organizations, there is tremendous pressure to speed things up. Vast investments in technology, hiring different skillsets and streamlining the process is the focus of the work. They would like to be more innovative and nimble but we see few willing to really trim back the deadwood required to significantly break with the default patterns of the past. The good news is they live in sectors riddled with slow-moving peers. The bad news is their lunch will be eaten as a sector – see the brick and mortar retail as an example.

What does Organizational Agility look like?

  • Active, curious attention paid to the environment
  • Vigorous debates about how things are going, where things are going and what is going to be done about it
  • A strong holding environment (holding environment = a sense people have that the risks they take are not entirely their own)
  • The penchant for experimentation in an incremental, iterative way,
  • Making bets on people with clear direction, articulate performance measures, and direct, timely feedback.
  • Consistent process and practice that connects the strategy to the approach to the results

Take the test: Score your organization – 10 points per item. 1 means there is little of or no evidence of that factor, 5 means it happens on and off, 10 means it happens nearly all the time. A perfect score is 60. We haven’t seen that yet. Let us know where you are.