Becoming More Agile

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

In last week’s post, we reviewed the characteristics of an agile business – customer centricity, decentralization, and a small team focus. If you’re the leader responsible for strengthening these attributes in your business, how might you proceed?

Pursuing agility compels changes in mindset and behavior, as well as to policy and process. Leaders expect that resistance to these changes will be a natural first reaction; emotions will be triggered and barriers will rise. Concerns about personal impact and adaptability, alignment with company values, and trust must be resolved.

Experience teaches that people will not take the risk of implementing change if they don’t understand why it’s necessary, don’t feel personally valued and appreciated, and are uncertain about the leader’s commitment to the change and to them.

Your willingness to address these issues over time, and your consistent engagement with your team as they work with you to implement the necessary changes, will demonstrate your commitment and enable your business to become increasingly more agile.

– Be present with your team members from the start of the initiative until its completion;

– Communicate often and directly with your team, reminding about your vision, alignment with purpose and core values, and the reasons for the changes, before soliciting their views about their sense of progress, how they feel, and what they need from you;

– Develop a coalition of change advocates, other leaders and influencers, who will give the initiative credibility and help manage resistance.

Once your initiative to increase agility is launched, these team performance dynamics may serve as progress metrics:

  1. Is your team clear about their goals, roles, and implementation plans, and how they will collaborate to accomplish what’s necessary?
  2. How strongly does each member of your team fundamentally believe that their work is meaningful for them personally, and important for the business?
  3. Does your team have the psychological safety necessary to accept the risks related to implementing planned changes, without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  4. Has your team’s shared accountability grown so that they rely on one another, supporting and holding each other accountable for getting the required work completed with the highest quality, thoroughly, and on time?

What are your first steps in the pursuit of increased agility for your business?

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