5 Ways to Ensure the Agility of Your Organization

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“Agility is principally about mindset, not practices.”Jim Highsmith, co-author of The Agile Manifesto

Today’s business environment is roiling with uncertainty. From lingering supply chain issues to recession worries to changes in consumer preferences, it’s imperative that organizations are able to roll with these waves and respond to them quickly. Smaller, agile organizations might have an advantage over larger ones in the coming years.

Commonly used in the software industry, agile methodology is traditionally a project management approach that focuses on delivering value to the customer through iterative and incremental work. Many organizations, facing uncertain macroeconomic trends and juggling hybrid and remote work environments, have begun to adopt this approach to running the overall business.

It’s a smart strategy. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, “agile firms grow revenue 37% faster and generate 30% higher profits than non-agile companies.” Moreover, the same report states that 27% of executives stated that their business is at a competitive disadvantage because it cannot quickly adapt to shifts in the marketplace.

What is enterprise agility?

As defined by PWC, an agile enterprise focuses on three key competitive factors – the environment in which it operates, the flexibility of the organization and its ability to respond to threats or changes strategically. Each of these factors addresses internal and external components:

Operating Environment. Executives today need to consider multiple trends and factors – both large and small – when planning for uncertain times. Inflation and supply chain insecurity continue to plague a wide array of industries. The climate crisis – and consumer demands that brands take all possible measures to mitigate their contribution to it – remains a looming existential threat. And, despite a growing number of layoffs in some industries, the fact is there remains an ongoing shortage of talent, a result of The Great Resignation and “quiet quitting,” as well as a skills gap in some industries as automation and other technologies are adopted.

Strategic Responsiveness. Agile organizations foster an internal culture that encourages an empowered environment of responsiveness and accountability. It is this type of internalized responsibility across the organization, combined with a strategic leadership team able to sense the winds of change, quickly course correct and roll out a new strategy that contributes to the success of an agile-driven business.

Organizational Flexibility. In any organization, linking business strategy to the current landscape is central to agile execution. The ability to pivot – strategically and operationally – based on current events and conditions is key. The best strategic decisions are worth nothing if leadership cannot clearly communicate them across the organization and empower teams with the ability to adapt and respond.

Agile leadership tips

How can leaders adopt an agile management style? After founding and leading a number of technology organizations, I’ve found five essential leadership tips.

Empower all Levels: Teams are inspired by the opportunity to work within an agile environment alongside colleagues who share a common vision. An agile organization looks to the decisions, actions and words of leadership throughout the organization, including informal leaders who have the influence, if not the title, as well as its executives.

Talk Less, Listen More. There’s an old adage that we have two ears and one mouth so that we listen twice as often as we speak. A key tenet of agile is that as a leader we do not assume we have all the answers. Taking input from others close to a challenge, which ensures leadership relies on real-world facts versus “gut instinct” or “how we’ve always done things.”

Recruit for Agility. Healthy organizations are, by their nature, fluid. In order to recruit candidates with an agile mindset, some tried-and-tested elements of your recruitment model may need adjustment. One way to identify potential new hires with an agile orientation is to ask behavioral questions that root out his or her ability to collaborate and adapt to changing scenarios or their approach to transparency and accountability.

“In-House” Strategically. Many leaders are tempted to bring functionality into the organization in order to improve agility and, potentially, reduce costs. Before you make this decision, determine whether having an outside perspective is important to the function. Third parties can provide flexibility and enable the internal team to focus on your strategic operations.

Enable and Empower. People work best when they feel empowered and enabled to make significant contributions to their organization. And empowered employees are engaged employees, creating a virtuous cycle of innovation and achievement.

As we’ve seen over the past two years, no one can accurately predict what types of challenges the global economy, international unrest or other worldwide challenges the coming year might bring our way. Preparing with an agile mindset can make it easier for business leaders to pivot based on changing conditions in real time.

Ramon Kania
As CTO of Mitto, Ramon Kania is responsible for the technology that makes the Mitto SMS Messaging platform both reliable and cost effective. Ramon has been coding since the age of 11 and has decades of experience designing and developing disruptive systems.

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  1. Commonly used in the software industry, agile methodology is traditionally a project management approach that focuses on delivering value to the customer through iterative and incremental work.

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