DO YOU HAVE YOUR 2017 AGILITY CHECKLIST?

Most precision operators have checklists to insure that the critical activities, conditions, events and resources are in place, fully functioning and properly executed.  Would you want to fly on an airplane, submit to major surgery, live near a nuclear reactor or even drive your next rental car without the confidence that the responsible crew or team had not used a rigorous checklist to insure safe and effective operations?  Not me.  Checklists are essential whether you are NASA launching a rocket ship into outer space or a project manager looking to launch the next product improvement initiative.  The complexity and speed of play in today’s operating environment can be overwhelming.

We are in the season when many organizations are heading off to strategic retreats to hopefully stop the merry-go-around for a few days and reflect on three classic strategic questions to help them and their organizations get re-centered for 2017 and beyond …

  • Who are we and where are we today … really?
  • Where are we going?
  • How do we get everyone aligned and focused on what matters to get there?

Shaping the Future involves helping your leaders, teams and total enterprise to be focused, fast and flexible on the things that matter in your vision and strategy map for success.  Here are a few checklist questions you might use with your teams as you go to the mountain top for a few days or even just progressively pause for a few hours of meaningful, reflective discussion as a team – big or small.

ARE YOU FOCUSED?

  • What does that mean for you anyway – as a leader, team or total organization?  Maybe you have an aspirational vision statement that provides everyone meaning, purpose and energy – that’s great.  Maybe you don’t. As a true leader you can (must) help your team identify and understand the team’s mission, goals and roadmap for success.  The absence of this clarity results in many false starts and organizational collisions.  In the Navy SEALS, they call this clarity understanding the “commanders’ intent” – it helps guide decision-making down the line.
  • How do we translate this down the line?  Clarity must radiate beyond the senior leadership circle if any chance to become a truly focused organization … it must go top to bottom and across all functions.  Focus cannot be complicated, confusing or contradictory.  Those organizations who are concentrating on building understanding and skills in core “operating principles” are navigating better and faster than those organizations trying to be overly prescriptive and controlling.

ARE YOU FAST AT WHAT MATTERS?

  • Where must you have strategic speed? This question can create important and provocative conversation.  More likely than not, it will lead you to some discussion about cross-functional collaboration of one sort or another.  In some organizations, this often naturally leads to fingers getting pointed in several directions.  Just as dysfunctional are those organizations that operate in benign neglect for fierce conversation.  Strategic speed has a dependent relationship to this notion of being focused which is why we ALWAYS talk about being FOCUSED, fast and flexible – with focus first.
  • How do you get and stay FAST? This is often the tougher question – how to change the metronome standard in your organization.  The speed of play is getting faster all the time – how does that play out in your organization?  Are you using the same age old cadence and expectations for product development e.g. it normally takes us three years to launch a new product?  The key is getting all the stakeholders to up the tempo together just as talented jazz or bluegrass musicians are able to do in a jam session.  It doesn’t work if only part of the team is willing or able to step up the tempo.

ARE YOU FLEXIBLE?

  • What does flexibility mean for you?  Flexibility is a strategic capability for agile organizations, teams and leaders.  Really does start with a leadership mindset of positive adaptability and possibilities.  The simple leadership realization that “there is more than one right answer” is powerful and liberating as National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones shared in his video on Everyday Creativity.  The paradox to be effectively navigated is how to create clarity in strategic direction and operating principles AND to be open to idea diversity and new possibilities.  Agile leaders polish, feed and grow this capability as they continuously inform their capabilities to anticipate change better and faster.
  • How do you get and stay FLEXIBLE? Agile organizations are oriented to operating principles of speed, fluidity and synchronicity among others.  Those factors that are constraints to those principles also limit flexibility.  Each is an opportunity for teams discover the “next right answer” that doesn’t sacrifice on your customer centric value equation.

Yes – the magic comes from the ampersand … when we are Focused, Fast & Flexible then we are well on our journey to making Agility a real advantage while creating the kind of organizations where talent flourishes and grows.  These are but some of the key questions that might be on your checklist.  If you would like to explore more, you might check out our book FOCUSED, FAST & FLEXIBLE.  You can acquire from Amazon or click here www.focusedfastandflexible.com to get copies for your whole team at our bulk discounted rate.  It will help equip your team for some provocative discussion about some critical success factors for Shaping Your Future in 2017 and beyond.

LEADERSHIP … THE CAPACITY TO TRANSLATE VISION INTO REALITY!

This timeless, succinct definition of leadership is one of the many pearls of wisdom Warren Bennis has shared over the years.  No doubt, there are many dimensions, skills and nuances about leadership inspiration, intelligence, skills and insights packed into the phrase and required to “translate vision into reality”.  Most great leaders that I have observed have a noticeably superior skill at articulating, in very authentic manner, their vision for the enterprise and what it means for all of us in real, tangible and inclusive ways. The truly extraordinary leaders also have the situational intelligence to help each team recognize their role in the success equation, feel the gravitas of their contribution and create the unity of focused, fast and flexible teams throughout the organization.  These are some of the central elements in our notion of Leadership Agility … which FORBES declared as the “defining ingredient in next generation leadership”.

 

 

THE BIG QUESTION … is how you can tell if your leaders are having meaningful IMPACT with their organizations and whether there is any correlation between the capabilities of your leaders and the competitive capabilities displayed by your business teams, divisions or the overall enterprise?  Many of our clients appreciate being able to draw this correlation when they conduct both the ORGANIZATIONAL AGILITY PROFILE (OAP) and our LEADERSHIP AGILITY PROFILE 360 (LAP).  Both of these assessments provide multi-rater summary perspectives to assess critical organizational and leadership behaviors using our research-based agility framework … THE AGILE MODEL®.

Below is a sample AGILITY HEATMAP that is one of the diagnostic tools we use in our Organizational Agility Profile.  You can see how the HEATMAP highlights key differences between business units, job levels as well as between functions, company tenure, geographic regions and other organizational dimensions.

The perspective becomes even more insightful as leaders can compare their own Leadership Agility Profile as well as the individual profiles of their leadership teams in comparison to the overall profile of the business unit or function.  We tend to find high correlations in areas like decision-making, engagement and with bias for action and innovation.

Importantly, it enables a very potent conversation about the relationship of individual capabilities in agile leadership and the corresponding team or organizational profile.  Here is a sample LAP SPYDERGRAM  that is one of the illustrations in our LAP 360 report.  Whether using our tools or other quality instruments, it is important to bridge the conversation between leadership and organizational impact.  It is often very hard because of the revolving door and movement of leaders in and out or across organizations.

Each of the 15 Agile Capabilities leads to real and meaningful business building outcomes. Having just recently gone in for my annual physical, I had many diverse diagnostic and insightful assessments about my overall health … blood pressure, EKG, blood work along with the occasional x-ray as needed.  As my doc reviewed all of these findings with me, I got a clear picture of my overall health and indications of the areas where I needed to pay more attention.

In many respects, that is what our OAP and LAP does for our clients when part of a regular “check-up” … annually or bi-annually to check in on the organizational health and agility drivers. With all the health consciousness dominating our personal lives – makes good sense to apply some of the same good thinking to our organizations and leaders.  I would love to get your thoughts and perspectives also – what is working for you?

What 280 Executives Said They Face

What 280 Executives Said They Face

Turbulence ahead.

That’s one key message I learned while writing the inaugural issue of The VUCA Report™, which outlines findings from an ongoing study I’m spearheading here through The Strategic Agility Institute.

This study essentially focuses on two elements: (a) the forces of change that executives face and (b) what they’re doing about it. We were fortunate to have had 280 responses 

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Agile Organizational Design: The Case of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force

Agile Organizational Design: The Case of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force

One of my colleagues—a super-smart scholar and all-around wonderful person—once asked me for my ideas about topics to cover in an upcoming class about organizational structure. He recognized the importance of the topic in general, but he wasn’t finding anything particularly exciting to cover. The typical areas of formalization, span of control, centralization and the chain of command simply weren’t doing it for him.

I can’t remember what I may have suggested for that class. Whatever I said, it probably wasn’t very helpful.

But my thinking about organizational structure has changed in recent years, 

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This Week in Agility Research: Feb. 4, 2016

Here are a few items of new agility-related research that popped up on our radar this week. 

Review: Organizational Intelligence and Organizational Agility
By: Elham Nekahi and Ahmad Mehrabian

The creation of the world and its over time has shown that everything is in motion and the motion in the nature of phenomena. Necessary to adapt this changing of world is that man can make changes to fit it in. Acceptance of the changes is necessary for innovation, invention and improvement of life, improves the organization and in general is human evolution. Hence, the growing acceptance of any changes required for human life and an integral part of any organization and is recognized as a sustainable phenomenon. The aim of this study was

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Mapping Your "VUCASPHERE"

Mapping Your "VUCASPHERE"

Each organization faces its own indigenous VUCA climate and context—we call it your VUCASPHERE.  We believe VUCA is here for the long term, so the critical response is for organizations to develop a superior capacity to recognize and evaluate the VUCA factors as the organizations continue to serve their stakeholders.  

Building this capacity becomes the operating context for creating agility for your organization, and before we go any further, we should

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How an Artist Captured the Essence of VUCA and Talent Management Agility

How an Artist Captured the Essence of VUCA and Talent Management Agility

I was asked to deliver a keynote presentation complemented by an executive panel discussion on "Leadership in a Dynamic World" at the annual Investment Program Association (IPA) Conference in Chicago this past week.  

Oh, I might also add that the audience of about 350 direct investment professionals were also engaged throughout the session through the use of handheld rating devices that enabled immediate analysis of the questions asked of them.  This was a daunting task since I was to be followed by Austan Goolsbee, former Chief of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors.  

Therefore, 

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The Gig Economy: How Agile is your HR Team?

The Gig Economy: How Agile is your HR Team?

Does your human resources team have the agility required to address the challenges of "The Gig Economy?"

If you haven’t yet heard about The Gig Economy, it is a growing challenge for HR professionals and people managers now faced with a portfolio of workers, some full time while others are contract or contingent workers. 

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