How to develop an agile organisation?

It’s no secret that to be successful today companies have to be able to act quickly.

The term agility is used for a variety of purposes. It can be interpreted as more of a mindset than a methodology; even though agility is heavily used in project management and manufacturing.Agility means the ability toread changing conditions and toanticipate new opportunities and to respond to them and adapt to them quickly, effectively and economically.

Being agile lets organizations move faster than their competitors who are busy with planning and perfecting rather than executing. Agile organizations can also outperform their competitors because they are constantly making adjustments to tailor their product or service to their customers’ specific demands.

A study by McKinsey found that 9 out of 10 executives said organizational agility was critical to business success and growth. And the Project Management Institute's Organizational Agility Report introduced the following equation: greater organizational agility = better performance = improved competitive advantage.

Here are few things you can do to build agility and sense of urgency in your organization.

# Use technology to get “Real-Time” Insights

The pace of change has accelerated due to the faster movement of information and the advancement of technology. Instead of waiting for reports, you can look at real time data gathered from authentic sources and can make sense of it to act quickly. Teams that stress real-time insights will be better suited to take advantage of sudden consumer or industry shifts. Use technology as a change agent

# Get clarity on the majors

In a complex environment, you can loose sight of the majors and you may begin to say YES to a lot of ideas; this is detrimental. In most companies there are more good ideas than the resources to implement them. If you don’t know how to prioritize, you simply end up slowing down your organization.

# Become a responsive organization

A responsive organization possesses the ability to respond to changes proactively. The typical obstacles to an agile business response are slow decision-making, conflicting departmental goals and priorities, risk-averse cultures, silo-based information and cumbersome processes; all this can slow-down or even stop people from delivering or making things happen. It’s important to change organizational structure so that processes and systems can be realigned to execute the desired strategy.

# Iterate faster; process implementation focused on speed and not on cost

Rapid, low-cost trials and prototypes help you execute faster. There is often a desire to develop the perfect solution before testing it. You are better off trying to fail as quickly and as cheaply as you can than attempting to seek perfection, which slows you down. Value creation is a continuous and ongoing process, which never is perfect in the first attempt. So focus on faster and better solution than a perfect one. The objective of many process improvement projects is to cut cost. An organization is only as fast as its processes allow. By focusing your process improvements on speed i.e. time to market, delivery responsiveness, time to build your product, you will, inevitably, focus on reducing the waste and delay in your current processes and end up reducing your costs as well.

# Move From Hierarchy to Wirearchy

Hierarchies, though efficient and predictable, are often implemented at the expense of responsiveness. Today’s organizations need networks or wirearchies that promote an open-flow of information, which attributes to agility, execution and decision-making. The Wirearchy of being connected with everyone, even on cross-functional team, enables employees to communicate with each other. With constant communication comes constant learning. This in turn helps in problem solving with more clarity and make immediate adjustments for a faster outcome.

# Form Community

The ecosystem that enables agility is a close knitted community that comprises of suppliers, customers, partners, associates and other stakeholders. Today companies have realized the value of better information, fast feedback, and collaboration. They treat their external stake holders and customers as a part of a community to receive instant feedbacks, collaborate or to co-create value together. To stay ahead of the curve they even make quick strategic partnerships with other entities including their own competition.  In the smart phone market, for example, Google’s willingness to partner with other companies has given the company many growth options for its Android operating system.

# Make Agility Part of Your Organizational Culture

You can’t be agile, if agility is not part of your value system or best practice or at the core of your work culture. Any work culture that helps employees to take risk is moving agile. Therefore empower employees to take on risk, challenge them to move beyond their personal comfort zones, create projects to enable cross-functional expertise and exchange. Raise your level of expectation, and those with an inclination for next-level leadership will present themselves.

The fact is that true organizational agility arises from a company-wide mindset that embraces change and is fueled by disruptions to the status quo. Agility can be a part of your company DNA when you focus on Building agile teams that works in collaboration. Encourage a collaborative and creative culture, which enables people to consider interconnections between the organization’s capabilities and emerging market opportunities that are identified.

Instead of working in silos, teams will collaborate and bring in their cross functional expertise to create better solutions that are customer driven.

# Agile leadership

Another way is to Develop agile leadership. One of the barriers to increased organizational agility is the lack of executive engagement or leadership. But when leadership shares a common view of the organization’s strategic goals and develops the proper strategic response with sufficient support, it becomes more agile. Empowering teams with autonomy helps them make faster decisions. After all in business; agility means accepting some risk to keep moving forward.

Paul Robinson is India's leading Keynote Speaker and Business Strategist. Paul's workshops and keynotes can help your employees to develop a mindset for agility and growth. To learn more about Paul please visit

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