There are three sub-types of agility that make up our model of Organization Agility. To be optimally adaptable and nimble, an organization should endeavor to strengthen the agility of each type and the supporting systems and practices that support them.
The measure of FOCUS agility is the degree that your organization can and does nimbly adjust its mission, strategies and goals – where it is heading – to respond to new threats, opportunities, or business conditions. Agile organizations read their markets (current and potential customers, competitors, trends, regulatory environments, etc), scan their external and internal environments, understand emerging opportunities, and quickly turn the information into a road map for action. To improve focus agility your systems and practices need to not only tolerate change, but also be designed to prompt leaders at all levels to regularly recalibrate and adjust the organization’s focus. And all employees should be expected, encouraged, and rewarded for keeping their eyes and ears open for helpful information and sharing this business intelligence.
Focus agility is most visible when applied to broad strategies but is also important on the departmental level. Leaders who fail to adjust the direction of their work groups will find it difficult to optimize results and performance.
RESOURCES agility is achieved through a continual redeployment of people, processes, money, capital, and other organizational assets. To achieve resources agility leaders need to have systems in place that alerts them when a reallocation is warranted and could better serve the organization’s mission and strategies. Agile organizations do not leave the potential need for resources reallocations to chance nor do they tolerate an ad hoc approach to management. If nonstop change is an organizational reality, then it is important to regularly reassign assets to meet today and tomorrow’s needs.
While it is almost always the case that resources agility should follow a change in focus (mission, strategies, goals), resources agility might also be needed in absence of a change in focus. Agile leaders measure progress and use data to proactively reallocate resources to better achieve goals. It is also common that changes in performance agility (see below) impacts how resources are allocated and used.
Of the types of Organizational Agility, PERFORMANCE agility is perhaps the most commonly practiced. Many businesses use efficiency tools and practices such as Lean, Kaizan, quality processes, Theory of Constraints, and Agile (not to be confused with Organizational Agility) to improve their processes and ways of getting the work done.
In addition to creating agile processes, it is important to create agile people, teams, and cultures. Like is the case with operational processes, we need to continually adjust and align how people do their jobs and how people work together. It is not enough to ensure that people are accepting of changes, they need to advocate and initiate changes.
Work cultures are thought to be slow and difficult to change and this is often the case. Agile organizations, however, have learned how to identify core elements of their desired culture and quickly replace obsolete notions, practices, and beliefs. Agile cultures encourage employees to discuss and challenge (in a culturally acceptable way) business practices, values, operating methods, and work processes as this is an important way that leaders learn the information they need to keep business results on track to achieve goals.
Which of these three types of Organizational Agility has your company developed? Organizational Agility is a set of capabilities built deep into your systems and practices that provides structure to prompt leaders to continuously adapt aspects of their focus, resources allocation, and performance plans to improve results.