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Agility Here and Now


Agility – the buzz word for the last five years or so of every #futureforward organisation and publication has finally arrived! Perhaps not entirely driven by well-meaning, determined organisations and Corporate Cultures but more of a necessity driven due to the pandemic.

Agility – in all aspects – be it leadership, learning, operational or commercial has always been highlighted as a key requirement for businesses and individuals to succeed in the VUCA world (yes.. that’s here as well – like never before!). However, whilst every organisation’s competency framework or values system has included Agility in some form or the other, its actual presence has always been perfunctory. How well it was identified as a competency in individuals and how well companies actually created platforms and frameworks to adopt Agility as a real-time way of working has generally been a question mark.

In order for Organisations to adapt to the new normal, they will have to become more agile in the following four areas will be key:

Agility in Mindset

This perhaps is the single most important aspect of Agility that needs to be inculcated in Organisations. Leadership teams need to not only use the word but understand it’s real meaning, its implications and actually weave it into their principles of doing work. Traditional mindsets overrule the innovative agile approaches as it poses a risk to prevelant practices and power control which unfortunately still drives the basic mindset of Corporate Cultures. Leaders will undoubtedly need to adopt an open, trusting mindset which fosters agility amongst their teams and put in place mechanisms of performance monitoring which may not yet been envisioned.

Agility in Structures

Hierarchical structures based on control mechanics are definitely over and Organisations who do not recognise this, will remain stuck or become obsolete.

Whilst Organisations have increasingly realised the drawbacks of a hierarchical structure – bureaucracy, delayed decision making, innovation slow down – none barring a few, have actually taken the step to re-think hierarchy. Structures are important but are they more important than the talent in it? The comfort of a structure, the power of a position, the possibility of deflecting accountability is still very much ingrained, supporting the continuation of a hierarchical organisation.

An agile organisation of the future will thrive in an environment driven by experts who come together for projects that take it to the next level and then move on to a completely different team driving another facet of the business. What happens to everything else? It gets outsourced, automated, digitised or removed.

As offices – open plan or traditional – become non-necessary, the onset of agile experts driving value-based business will bring an eventual quantum leap in how we manage business today and lay the true foundation of Agility in Structures.

Agility in Roles

Multi-skilling, cross-functionality will be key to ensuring not only productivity and efficiency, but also ensuring a longer time viability of a workforce that is able to adapt, flex and change gears as and when markets fluctuate. Empowerment will need to become a norm to enable effective decision making at the customer contact point with leaner management structures. How organisations learn from the pandemic and set their learning strategies will be critical to future success. Making talent an enterprise resource and channelling them effectively to address / deliver the company’s mission will be a key differentiator.

Agility in Technology

In principle, the entire foundation of an agile workplace will depend on successfully agile technology that can work as a bridge between organisational strategies and talent groups scattered across locations to deliver an experience that surpasses customer expectations and experience. Whilst easier to enhance for online driven businesses, how customer service driven organisations will use technology will be dependant on the “ease-to-use” for the service provider and the customer. Ultimately, the challenge will remain as to how the maintain the “human” in experiences that till now have been purely driven by providing personalised services.

Again, for this to be successful, organisations will need to consider how they make their data secure yet openly available to people remotely working so it does not impact their ability to deliver. A remote workforce is of no use is they can’t access half the things necessary for them to do their jobs or collaborate effectively. Data protection, intellectual property and confidentiality related policies will all need to be reviewed and revamped. Whilst exciting, the above definitely challenge traditional thinking and existing norms. How well Leaders drive a definite change philosophy will determine the successful integration of Agility in the workplace!

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Author avatar
Aseem Kapoor

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