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.

What are Your Agility Super Powers?

 Flying Faster than a Speeding Bullet … Jumping Higher than the Tallest Building? 

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What are your “agility super powers”?  Sometimes it seems like we need to find Superman and his amazing superpowers to help us overcome the challenges of our VUCA world as it becomes more volatile, more uncertain, more complex and more ambiguous every day

From our on-going work with clients in a wide variety of industries and markets, we find our forward focused clients working hard at building their agility super powers but also building out clarity and unity with all of their stakeholders on core operating principles for shaping future success.

A few months ago, we worked with over a hundred leaders from a $2b Danish pharma company in helping them discover and develop the kind of “super powers” they needed to combat the VUCA they will face during the next few years.  If you aren’t working hard at these things, you will find the forces of VUCA to be like Kryptonite and stealing your power and vitality very soon.

It is very enlightening when you create the opportunity for leaders to work together and discover the kind of transformation needed in their operating capabilities and the PIVOT  they must make (and hold each other accountable) FROM their current operating style TO a new and improved (agile) operating style.  We find the five drivers captured in THE AGILE MODEL® represent a powerful combination of super powers worth dedicating energy and resources to develop as capabilities within your leaders and teams …

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These super powers involve the kind of superior capabilities that will help  you build your agility advantage – as you keep focused on getting better and faster at what matters for your Vision.

In order to sustain and grow across the organization, there is also the need for an additional framework of critical operating principles to help educate and inform your actions.  Outlined below are those we believe are important to consider.  We find it even more powerful when leaders and teams use these as a starting point but then frame and describe them in those terms that mean the most to them.

These provide a good discussion framework for you and your teams to engage and explore.

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Creating agility advantage in this VUCA world requires that we examine the right dynamics and capabilities … not always the same that we once would have evaluated.  Using these super powers and operating principle frameworks will enable you and your teams to discover new insights and inflection points that will help you in becoming more FOCUSED, FAST & FLEXIBLE.  Of course, our book will be a useful resource for your efforts as well.

DO YOU HAVE YOUR VUCA NIGHT GOGGLES?

Have you ever looked through a pair of night goggles when it is pitch black dark?

It really is quite amazing what you can see.  Things appear that are otherwise completely invisible to your unaided eyes.  These are invaluable tools for use by military forces as well as wild game hunters.  Night vision goggles work by using image enhancement technology that collects all the available light, including infrared light, and amplifies it so that you can easily see what’s going on in the dark.

Often these night vision goggles are used to help us identify or discover potentially disruptive creatures (sometimes human and sometimes not).  Recently, I participated in a very interesting meeting with some colleagues in another learning and consulting company. We discussed various ways of anticipating change and discovering the forces of disruptive change coming at us,  i.e. the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) that surrounds us.  This idea of night goggles came to mind.

Sometimes I think it would be very helpful if there were a corporate variety of vision enhancing technology – ways for helping leaders to “see” what is happening in and around their organizations that often stays invisible.  There are many amazing technology solutions for many things – I have my doubts whether we can simplify this equation enough to reduce it to an app or new device.  In the absence of such off-the-shelf solutions, business leaders will need to rely on training their perspectives and building awareness of the kind of questions and resources that can to help them recognize where their disruptive change is coming from next.

That is the essence of THE VUCA REPORT – a global collaborative pulse survey we launched two years ago in an effort to help us all better identify, recognize and understand the disruptive forces of change coming at us faster and faster each day. Just like with night vision goggles, as you begin to explore the right questions you can begin to see things you may not have seen before.  In THE VUCA REPORT,  we have been tracking 35 disruptive factors categorized in the areas of  technological advances, economic dynamics, environmental & social issues, geopolitical dynamics, regulatory & cyber security issues and a collection of issues grouped as workforce dynamics.

What is additionally interesting are the open-ended questions we ask …

  • What practices are you doing NOW that are helping you counter the effects of VUCA? 
  • What practices have you seen others do or that you plan to do in the FUTURE?
  • What do you see as the OBSTACLES standing in the way of making improvements in your agility?

Lastly, THE VUCA REPORT has been collecting data about the extent to which leaders believe they have the essential agility capabilities in their organizations to counter the effects of the VUCA context and navigate the future with success.  Those capabilities map out on THE AGILE MODEL® as outlined below:

As we all face the VUCA that lies ahead, it will become increasingly essential that we become better equipped with organizational night goggles or at least a better lens and skills to face this otherwise daunting future.  The capability areas outlined above give us a good roadmap for discussion and self-examination.

  • How are you doing in the area of Anticipating Change … do you keep getting surprised by your customers and competitors and sometimes even your employees?
  • How well are you Generating Confidence internally with your teams and externally with your investors, customers and suppliers?
  • How effective are you at Initiating Action on the right things – making decisions better and faster at all levels in your organization?
  • How pervasive is the drive for fresh, innovative thinking (FIT) across your organization?
  • How well does your whole team know and understand how to Evaluate Results and what real success means for all?

As leaders begin to regularly examine and prosecute these kind of questions (and more), they begin to SEE things in their organizations that they did NOT see before.  They begin to see the obstacles AND the enablers for becoming better and faster at those things that really matter.  In the south, there is an old saying “when the water level is low – the stumps will show”.  Don’t wait until your water level is too low from not adapting as needed to stay competitive and agile.  Use these AGILITY GOGGLES to see into your people, processes and technology domains and discover the opportunities for becoming more FOCUSED, FAST & FLEXIBLE … aka AGILE.

I look forward to hearing your feedback and perspectives about the lens and questions you think will help illuminate the next practices for countering the effects of VUCA in your world and helping you create the agility advantage.