Can Business Agility be Sustainable?

Some organizations mistakenly believe that agile is found in a plug-and-play tool, a 3-step plan you can buy from a consultant, or some magical scaling system. In our experience, businesses that buy into the illusion of easy agility are quickly disillusioned and never realize the true power of becoming agile.

What is Sustainable Agility?

Constant rapid response and adaptation requires agility throughout the business.

Building a responsive culture is vital for organizations that want to stay one step ahead of their competition. As market demands fluctuate, those organizations that can quickly adapt are more likely to embrace change within the organization. It is important that everyone in the organization help to create, shape and transform the organization’s culture to be more responsive.

For employees, a safe environment where they can explore creates a new culture within the company; a learning organization. Employees need to be encouraged to experiment with new products, procedures, and services in order to become more efficient and productive in their work. Give time for employees to experience learning opportunities where they can grow professionally and utilize those new skills. As a leader, it is important to let go of fear and trust, listen, be patient and know that investing in your employees and their development is key to retaining and maintaining sustainability.

Sustainabilty is a whole company culture shift. It is a move from hierarchy to self organization. Decisions are not made by one individual, but rather pushed down to the edge of the organization, where information is fresh and most salient. Employees and leaders are transparent about the work that they do and the value that they bring. They are no longer trying to protect information, but rather democratize it. Communication is made frictionless asweekly all-hands meetings are conducted, so that each person within the organization is aware of what is happening in each team, department, or location. As communication pathways open, interactions become quicker andmatter more than perfection as everyone knows that there will be an opportunity to reiterate and refine.

True agility—sustainable business agility—is a mindset shift that happens throughout an organization over time. Though it sometimes originates inside a team or department, agility flourishes when businesses understand that “agile” is not some project management framework their teams are using that they don’t have to be concerned with. Sustainable agility happens when businesses embrace change throughout the organization—from HR to Finance to the C-suite.

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