5 Things Agile Organizations Do Well

By Guest Blogger Jill Windelspecht

The world moves fast and if your company’s going to keep up, it needs to be agile. Here’s how to get comfortable with change and keep your business relevant as the business world evolves.

The world is changing – and fast!  Are you ready? Is your business ready?  Are you and your leadership team prepared to tackle new workplace challenges and adapt to new norms?  Do your managers have the capabilities and mindset to transform and inspire a whole new generation of employees?  Does your workforce have the skill and the will to meet innovation demands, productivity requirements, company goals and customer expectations?  

These are important questions to be asking yourself as a business owner seeking to thrive in today’s complex and ever-changing world of work.  

As an organizational consultant and business/leadership coach, I have observed that when business owners prioritize building strong cultures and take time to identify clear strategic direction, they are invariably ahead of the curve.  I have found, however, that the most critical attribute to success in recent years is an organization’s ability to adapt and change and to take on a mindset of agility – always willing to capitalize on new opportunities (even if that means veering from traditional paths) and are able to shift directions seamlessly and efficiently (with the support of their staff and their management teams leading the way).  

Keen awareness of market forces and the foresight to see what is coming around the corner in terms of new opportunities will ultimately lead to a greater competitive advantage. And it starts with stopping organizational inertia dead in its tracks and having the courage to put down the “old ways” of doing things and the “traditional hierarchies” of yesteryear and instead build a more collaborate, responsive and flexible work environment – one now known as an agile organization.

Perhaps you’ve been selling computer software based on “product features” that were once appealing to customers and the only reason they bought from your company.  Now you see that the features are secondary to the need to cultivate trusting and long-lasting customer relationships and a “solutions-orientation” that has become more desirable to customers.  In other words, you sense that your target market is now more interested in comprehensive solutions from sales reps they trust and respect rather than merely purchasing software with specific product features.  Time to shift gears! You may need to hire sales reps who have these desirable qualities (and an expertise in solutions-selling) and also develop incentive and performance programs that reward establishing solid, enduring customer relationships.

A mindset of agility and taking steps (even small steps can have a significant impact) to create a more agile organization will be the keys to success in 2019 and beyond!  Begin by thinking about your business and organizational culture.  

Start here by asking:

  • How would you describe your workplace culture?

  • How about your vision, mission and values?  

  • Do they effectively lend themselves to inspiring a more flexible, creative and highly engaged and empowered workforce?  

  • Are all your other workplace policies and practices aligned with this type of philosophy?  

  • Are decisions made at the lowest levels possible (empowered) or all at the top?

Bottom line – we know now that a company’s ability to adapt, move quickly, and rapidly seize opportunities will be vital differentiators and the secret to future success.

So where do we start?  With a focus on AGILITY!

5 things agile organizations do well:

  1. Get comfortable with change:  Agile organizations are comfortable with change and do what they need to do to address these new challenges.

  2. Be clear and simple: Any process, procedure or policy that is overly cumbersome must get kicked to the curb and replaced with a simpler approach, and one that perpetuates and supports faster decision-making and more responsive actions.  

  3. Balance stability with agility: First, the perfect blend of standardized and structured rules and processes combined with individual freedoms and flexibility needed to seize market opportunities and respond swiftly to customer demands.  Second, a workforce and leadership team functioning in perfect harmony and high collaboration, high trust work environments.

  4. Trust and Empower employees: Trusting and empowering employees, divisions and teams to shift their focus and develop new products, services and methodologies is imperative.  Employees must also be entrusted to make decisions at the lowest levels.  

  5. Collaboration and Teamwork: Siloes and barriers to teamwork are broken down and leaders lead the way to facilitating healthy dialogue and reward those who collaborate well.  Agility- focused leaders know that having more “brains in the game” will lead to better ideas and innovative developments.  

Successful businesses today are making strides to create a culture that promotes agility, flexibility and adaptability.  Everything from their policies, systems and core values encourage this type of workplace.  Leaders of agile workplaces respect traditions and a certain level of structure; however, they are not so wedded to a strategy or process to a point of being unmovable.  Agile leaders inspire their employees to not get “stuck” and to also be looking for new ways of thinking and doing.

As an organizational consultant, I have had the opportunity to meet with many clients and discuss “what’s working and not working” and how do we keep up the pace with market demands and create an organizational climate where employees feel engaged and valued (because we know when this happens, productivity and profits go up!).  

An outside consultant can be a good way to start this process, providing insights on current workplace best practices and how to implement these practices to better engage employees and satisfy customers.  Retaining a third-party workplace expert can be the perfect way to start building agility within your workplace!

Jill Windelspecht has spent 20 years coaching executives, leading global and regional talent strategies, managing change and developing people. She works with mid- to senior-level executives and business owners to reach their potential and help create organizational climates that lead to lifelong prosperity. Helping executives develop their leadership and communication skills so that they can build a strong, cohesive team and break through any barriers holding themselves and their team back ... and not have to burn themselves out by doing so!  View her website by clicking here or contact Jill via email at Jillwindel@talentspecialists.net.