MOBILIZING FOR AGILITY – WHAT IS YOUR AQ?

Stephen Hawking was a visionary, futurist and one of the most intelligent humans ever.  We are going to miss his provocative voice and insights.  Surely, Stephen Hawking had a very high IQ and also recognized there are many dimensions of intelligence.

Most of us are familiar with the notion of Emotional Intelligence or EQ and its importance for both leaders and team members operating in this fast paced, turbulent world.  Our EQ relates to the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal.  Daniel Goleman popularized the concept of EQ with his 1995 book also called Emotional Intelligence which built on some pioneering work by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer.    There are a number of assessments like this one from Toronto based MHS, Inc.  EQ-i 2.0 that can help you and others explore EQ for yourself and others.

David Livermore has done some good work framing up insights and actions around your CQ – Cultural Intelligence defined as the capability to function effectively across national, ethnic, and organizational cultures. As the diversity in our global economy continues to build – no doubt CQ is becoming increasingly important in building our contextual intelligence and facilitating greater team effectiveness.

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Each of these frameworks help build out greater insights for successfully navigating organizational dynamics, relationships and engagement levels – and need all the insights we can muster to overcome the daunting forces of VUCA!  Yet, as we face this increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, it seems that we need more insights along the lines of what Stephen Hawking was saying … “intelligence is the ability to adapt to change”.  

We might call this our AQ or Agility Quotient meaning the extent of our knowledge and understanding about the dynamics and drivers of adaptability and nimbleness aka our agility?  All of the other Q’s are important contributors to overall success formula – especially as you enhance your Agility Quotient.  The good news is that there are more and more articles, research studies and publications about the dynamics of creating greater leadership and organizational agility than ever before. 

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At Agility Consulting, we have been dedicated to this topic for over 18 years now and there is much you can learn from our work including THE AGILE MODEL®, our Assessments & Analytic Tools, our 2015 book Focused, Fast & Flexible: Creating Agility Advantage in VUCA World and a full library of resources on agility at The Strategic Agility Institute.  There is also a significant amount to be learned from the active agility work by McKinsey & Co and many others.

The key to any kind of intelligence rests with our capacity to leverage it for advancement of our goals and aspirations.  It is good to read and learn about the keys for creating more agility in our lives – our leadership, teams and total enterprises.  It’s better to get MOBILIZED and begin to apply these insights to create positive change … and adapt.

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The future is coming at us faster that we know … digital transformation involving a variety of artificial intelligence (another AQ dimension) are just a couple of examples. Above is a roadmap we use in some of our engagements that highlights some of the critical steps in transformation.  It looks linear – it’s not.  But it definitely starts with finding the burning platform for getting started – mobilizing your energy and commitment to becoming better prepared to face the future and win.  There will definitely be winners and losers as we face this more consequential future. Those with superior AQ2 i.e. those with both greater knowledge and the skill to apply will be among the winners in the AGE OF VUCA.

Will you be FRAGILE or become AGILE?

Love to get your feedback and thoughts.

ARE YOU AN AGILITY PLAYER OR SPECTATOR?

Amen by Andrea O'Shea

We just finished watching another spectacular Masters golf tournament at the “shrine” of professional golf in Augusta, Georgia.   My brother Dan and his wife Andrea had the pleasure of living in Augusta for fifteen years while Dan worked for a multi-media communications company whose founder is one of the members at Augusta National Golf Club – a very exclusive group.

Andrea is a very talented architectural illustrator with a specialty in golf course illustrations.  This painting of the famous 12th hole is the gateway to what is known as “Amen Corner” where championships have been won and lost.  Just ask Jordan Speith about this hole.

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Maybe more than any other golf tournament, the Masters is revered and coveted – the definition of world class signified by the Green Jacket awarded each year to the Masters Champion.

The Masters and Augusta National Golf Club are also famous for their world class guest experience and attention to detail. Being a “spectator” here is to be pampered like nowhere else.

During Masters week, I was speaking with one of my clients, the CEO of a national restaurant chain. We were discussing the dynamics involved in organizational transformation and mobilizing the team.  Like at The Masters, it struck me that there are at least three categories of leaders and team members in most organizations – spectators, commentators and players.

Spectators are those who take a “wait and see” approach to things.  It is very unlikely that they will initiate action or proactively reach out to examine, explore or innovate.  Some will be quick followers chasing after the real players to get up close and personal view on things – but definitely stay behind the ropes and not likely to stick their neck out.

Commentators come in a few varieties.  Some were players, once upon a time, but now tend to just critique others or talk about how we used to do it in the good old days. Others never really were players but either studied other players or gained academic learning.

Not all commentators are negative. In fact, some can bring added enjoyment and insight to the overall experience.  We might call them champions of positive change.  These champions live by the tenets of The Optimist Creed from Optimist International.

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Within organizations, we sometimes run into commentators that can tend to add their own spin and contribute to negative resistance building.  Just as in an electrical grid, these can be agents of drag – creating negative polarity and reducing organizational aerodynamics. We sometimes call these agents – squirters for all the negativity they spread.

Finally, there are the Players.  These are the valuable, talented and courageous who are willing to do what it takes to hone their skills and get “inside the ropes”!  Patrick Reed is the latest example as the 2018 Masters Champion.  He may not be the most popular champion ever but no one doubts his determination and grit.

In our organizations, we need a full cadre of players at all levels.  We need players who can play at faster speed, capable of taking initiative, making decisions and being accountable to themselves and others. We need team players who understand the ethic of cooperation and can operate across borders and functions to actively collaborate.  We want and need players who will buy-in and champion the values and operating principles that define who we are and what we stand for – not just some of the time.

We must have players committed to being the best and treating each other and all stakeholders like guests at Augusta National.  Especially senior leaders responsible for shaping the future and developing tomorrow’s talent.

Take a fresh look within your organizations. Do you have spectators, commentators or players?  I hope you have a high percentage of players – that is what is required for agile organizations and that is what is needed to compete successfully in this VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. By the way, if you would like to get your own signed print of hole #12 shown above, please contact Andrea O’Shea.

Is Your VUCA External or Internal?

Whew!  The past seven months has been a pretty chaotic time in Washington and across the globe with almost more dramatic episodes of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) than we can count.  I am pretty sure that the Hollywood screenplay writers and reality TV show producers have more material than they can use for several seasons.  If the potential consequences and implications of this global VUCA vortex were not so daunting with somewhat impetuous leaders in North Korea, Russia and beyond – one might imagine a surreal, Sci-Fi-tinged spy thriller coming to theaters in early 2018.  Let’s hope it does not continue to play out with that kind of drama.

VUCA is that term coined at the US Army War College in the late 1990’s  and is precisely descriptive of the global operating context.  The reality is that there are “layers” of VUCA operating all the time. For example, the Global VUCA layer has its dynamics, consequences, influences and implications – so does your Regional and Local VUCA spheres.  This is intrinsically part of the VUCA vortex and adds to the total complexity factor that leaders and organizations must encounter and navigate.

There is another very impactful dimension to the VUCA equation – your “INTERNAL” VUCA! As we work with clients around the world, we often see significant amounts of VUCA created INSIDE the organization that compounds and exasperates the EXTERNAL VUCA factors – creating a HYPER-VUCA condition … CHAOS indeed.  Sometimes these internal VUCA factors are deep-seeded in the organization’s culture and can range from hard-riveted silos, steadfast holding onto “the way we have always done it” stubbornness, inadequate and often inaccurate information platforms or aberrant leadership behavior demeaning organizational spirit and values.

There are many sources of internal VUCA that often show up in THE VUCA REPORT™ pulse surveythat we have been tracking for two years as well our ORGANIZATIONAL AGILITY PROFILE™.  These are called out as people, process or technology obstacles that inhibit better and faster nimbleness and adaptability … aka your agility.  Some of these obstacles are chronic and have been around a long time.  Others are newly sprouted as the speed of business accelerates and can cause spontaneous chaos for those who do not anticipate change well.  We invite you to take THE VUCA REPORT™ survey yourself and share your experiences and perspectives along with the almost 1,000 others who have so far.

We are operating in a world filled with consequences and high performance expectations.  The impact of time compression where daily expectations are for faster results and decisions combined with the reality that “the way we used to do it” is becoming obsolete at warp speed – conspire to freeze and paralyze those who are FRAGILE and sets the table for those who are AGILE.  Darwin actually said its about “survival of the most adaptable”.  You will find many tools and insights throughout our website to help you move from the fragile zone to the agile zone.

There are numerous examples of organizations becoming stymied by their own Internal VUCA.  UBER is a recent example of a darling company with seemingly magic touch … then spiraled into whirlpool of internal VUCA around leadership behavior.  Certainly the high profile scandals at ENRON, WorldCom and Lehmann Brothers represented out of control internal VUCA.  Unfortunately, there has been significant amounts of Internal VUCA impacting the effectiveness and agenda at the White House and Congress.  Hopefully, the appointment of General Kelly this week will bring an experienced leader very familiar with all forms of VUCA along with the leadership acumen and discipline to minimize internal VUCA and help build better and faster capabilities to get important things accomplished.  As in any organizations, internal VUCA distracts and undermines organizational performance.

As many of you begin your 2018 business planning cycles, it is an excellent time to examine and evaluate your forces of change and the VUCA impacting your success.  What are those External VUCA factors that you must face and overcome?  What are those INTERNAL VUCA factors that may be undermining and sapping your energy, resources and focus?  Take a look at our ORGANIZATIONAL AGILITY PROFILE™ and work with your leadership team on these questions.  I will be interested in how the conversation flow progresses.  Always remember, as my partner Mike Richardson says … the right conversation flow leads to cash flow!

Love to get your feedback and perspectives on your sources of INTERNAL VUCA and what you are doing.