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.

Super Bowl Agility - Focused, Fast & Flexible

WHAT A DIFFERENCE TWO YEARS CAN MAKE IF YOU ARE COMMITTED TO TEAM AGILITY!

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The Philadelphia Eagles just demonstrated the essence of team agility (being focused, fast and flexible) in their stout 41-33 Super Bowl victory over the five-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots led by Hall of Fame (to be) quarterback Tom Brady.

Ever since Doug Pederson came to the Eagles two years ago to join GM Howie Roseman in an effort to pick up the pieces left over from the Chip Kelly experiment, there has been a different mindset, core belief system and team mantra unfolding.  The rewards for these efforts were celebrated yesterday and very likely will continue for days to come in Philadelphia.  If you look under the feathers at the Eagles team and organization, you will see some underlying key operating principles that helped make their victory a reasonable outcome and not a fluke.

Interviews with players and coaches affirm the presence of a shared belief system bonded in the team concept and a commitment to what that means.  This can sound typical and trite, but you can see it operating at a different level with these Eagles than the average team.  The Eagles season was marked with storybook kind of up’s and down’s as they started the season with dominance and a young quarterback, Carson Wentz, off to an MVP kind of year.  And then the unexpected VUCA-like thing happens … BOOM … injury ends his season and on the surface we would expect it also meant the end of Eagle’s playoff hopes.

What happens next is a real testament to Doug Pederson and the Eagles coaching staff and team … they adapted and ultimately thrived.  As volatility, uncertainty, complexity or ambiguity (VUCA) enters your world … will you be able to adapt and thrive?  The Eagles braintrust recognized that they no longer had the young phenom QB running the playbook – they now had a journeyman QB named Nick Foles who was next man up.  They proceeded to adapt their playbook to fit the capabilities of their resources and to leverage the core belief system that they had built to secure the team support, adaptability and commitment to change as needed.

There are many lessons you can take from this journey and carry over into your everyday world if you try.  It is very clear that there is shared FOCUS within this Eagles team and ultimate commitment to the outcome they sought … NFC Championship and ultimately Super Bowl Champions.  They demonstrated that they were FAST in their execution at all points – especially in adapting to change needed to succeed.  Their FLEXIBILITY came through in their willingness to change directions which was facilitated with the confidence they built in their system and its leadership.  Each of these three value systems involve hard work and discipline – just like Doug Pederson said in his locker room victory speech.  But the payoffs are great also as he then declared it was time for them to PARTY. 

Do you remember the 2007 half-time show at Super Bowl XLI in Miami when Prince played in the pouring rain?  This certainly was another example of Super Bowl Team Agility … his response to the producers when asked about his willingness to play in the rain was … “can we make it rain harder”!  Another example of the resilient mindset needed for agility.

Team agility can be illusive … hard to develop and hard to sustain.  Most of you are playing in your own version of the major leagues and we all recognize that  the speed of play and competitive environment gets faster and tougher each year.  How are you training your team agility and building your capabilities at being  Focused, Fast & Flexible?  Our book is filled with ideas, tools and suggestions that you can use.  If you would like more information or insights … reach out here … I’d be pleased to speak with you.

 

Congratulations Eagles on a deserved Team Win.

 

 

Agility Anathema: A Culture of Optionalism

WE ARE WHAT WE TOLERATE … is a core truism that tends to shape the culture (or at least the climate) as well as shape the spectrum of accepted behavior for societies as well as our organizations!  There are many iterations on this basic tenet including some strong quotes from the leadership guru, John C. Maxwell, or one of the motivation gurus, Tony Robbins among others.  The wisdom in this adage applies fully to each of us as individuals as well as leaders of teams, functions, units or the entire enterprise.  It is equally as applicable and relevant as we think about the dynamics in our families and other social relationships.  Collectively, it rolls up into the kind of customs, mores and codes of conduct that define us in all our communities, cities, regions and countries.

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One of the biggest issues we see in so many organizations -  is the need to dismantle the ubiquitous “culture of optionalism” that is a dangerous cancer growing and getting out of control!  In our work around the world with organizations of every description and industry, we are often having this discussion in our workshops on how overcome this hurdle as we strive to build greater organizational focus, speed and adaptability to compete successfully in this faster, more turbulent VUCA world.

Invariably, as we work with leadership teams to help them build clarity in their strategy maps and plot the pathways to Shape the Future, we find that “strategizing" becomes the “easier” part of the equation.  The really tough stuff comes as the leaders go back into their teams with the conditioned programming of an existing agenda and entrenched inertia of “the way we do things around here”.  To be an Agile Leader in this world, it takes great skill and commitment to marshall the energy and fortitude to lead REAL transformation and offset the tendencies that promote this insidious culture of optionalism.

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So, what are some of the symptoms and signs of this “optionalism” cultural virus?  Do you recognize any of these organizational behaviors:

  • Few people willing to step up to make decisions, own outcomes or initiate action without prodding
  • Decisions and agreements that are made in meetings rarely get implemented on time … without any corresponding consequence
  • Senior leaders tend not to communicate information actively down through their teams … resulting in many down the line folks operating blind … unaware of strategy or group priorities
  • Rogue managers who do not own or share the core values are allowed to continue … sometimes even recognized or rewarded
  • Functional agendas and priorities “trump" the group or enterprise priorities … without consequences or accountability
  • Team members are regularly confused and uncertain … is it that people come first, or is it customers come first or is it profit at all cost … what is it this week?

Focused, Fast & Flexible - these three simple words amplify loudly as the counterweights to a culture of optionalism.  Easy to say … hard to create and sustain!  Focus is the anchor for agility when it embodies the Why, How & What for your Agility journey.  The greater the clarity of these values, operating principles and success metrics - the less room there is for optionalism to exist.  Focus directs and informs where we must build organizational speed and flexibility - especially when allowed (or expected) to percolate at all levels within the organization.  Yes, we are what we tolerate and yet we can also be what you aspire to be … if you are willing to do what it takes and have the courage to be accountable to your vision and values.  There has been lots of comparable discussion in the national news this past week or two … I am hopeful we can all work harder on this in all aspects of our lives.  Our future and the future of our kids depend on it!

I would love to hear your experiences and perspectives.

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.