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“Opportunities don't happen. You create them.”

– Chris Grosser

Agile organization? Do we have a choice?

organizational agility

Many executives are kept up at night worrying about their company's ability to execute clearly defined strategies.

Many executives are kept up at night worrying about their company's ability to execute clearly defined strategies.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, only 56% of strategic initiatives have been successful and a meager 9% of surveyed companies are rated excellent at execution. http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/media/file/Strategyand_Infographic-Strategy-execution-survey.pdf?utm_campaign=LGC-5NOV15-EM-Commercial-BTG-FactAuditInfographic&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua

Organizations get constantly bombarded by internal and external factors that influence strategy execution.

At the organizational level, strategic decision making constantly gets influenced and sometimes overpowered by such external factors as market changes (market volatility), unpredictability change (uncertainty), constant reconsideration of key decision factors (complexity), and elusiveness of current situational and potential outcomes (ambiguity).

But these challenges are not just external to the organization. Let's face the reality.In our corporate lives, we feel more secure when we agree and follow previously implemented methodologies and frameworks even when we have difficulty connecting to the accepted perspectives of organizational performance, company strategy and objectives. Internal issues often prevent us from objective evaluation of external challenges and result in a barrier to objective decision-making in strategy execution. The painful truth is that we understand that there is a problem, but close our eyes and disregard the obvious.

In order to survive these challenging problems we have to have the ability to predict, plan and define how to respond to environment dynamics and complexity.

The time has come to address the agility of your organization because if it lacks agility, even the best strategies will fail during execution and it will cost you!

There are libraries of articles, papers, and books written in search of a silver bullet or methodology that will solve organizational problems by transforming a company into the agile world.

What is Agility?

If you Google the word Agility and click on images, most of the results are the pictures of dogs taking the agility track. What dogs are doing on the agility track is well defined by Wikipedia: Agility or nimbleness is the ability to change the body's position efficiently, and requires the integration of isolated movement skills using a combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength, and endurance.

Agility is not new but when we read this definition it becomes abundantly clear that agility is not just about quick reactions to events and situations!It is about the responsiveness and timeliness of an action, and how to be proactive and ready for the unexpected!

So, what are the key factors critical to the agile organization?

Not surprisingly, this month the PMI Executive Council (comprised of executives from leading businesses and federal agencies) met in Prague, asking the same question.

The entire meeting was focused on organizational agility. The situation they addressed was: "most management frameworks and philosophies have failed to evolve despite rampant changes in external market conditions, government policies, technology, and customer expectations." Among key factors identified by the Council as critical to whether an organization can be truly agile were: flexibility, collaboration, and communication while ensuring alignment to strategy and customer focus that leads to better decisions and increased organizational agility.

So, organizational agility is not just about speed. It is how we respond to challenges and the situations determining when it is appropriate time to act.

Moving toward an agile organization may seem like a daunting task. But do we have a choice?