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.

When the Water Level Is Low - the Stumps Will Show

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Agility Life Lesson #11 …

When the water level is low …

the stumps will show!

I think I first heard that insightful Southern saying over thirty years ago when I was a young thirty something HR Director learning my way around the business world.  I was riding between Wrangler jeans plants with our Divisional Finance Director, Woody Miller, as we went go plant-to-plant with other senior divisional leaders and share the annual “state of the business” story with all employees. Woody was filled with simple, pragmatic wisdom that spilled beyond the moment.  I should have filled a notebook with these sayings – they were plentiful and meaningful and some have stayed with me all these many years.

The 1980’s were some very turbulent years involving heavy inflation, deflation and culminating into a disruptive crash at the end of 1987.  We had moved to England in 1986 where I was able to learn much more about business and myself as I headed up Human Resoures, Strategic Planning and Total Quality Management based out of Nottingham for a couple of years.  I found Woody’s adage applicable around the world and as economic conditions worsened – the stumps of inadequate workforce development and leadership skills, weak businesses processes and fragmented technology platforms became abundantly apparent across many industries around the world.  Across the U.S., the stumps related to textile industry production and apparel manufacturing had become so prevalent that by the end of 1990’s, manufacturing in the U.S. for these industries was found only in the history books.

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Now we are living in the era of “accelerated obsolescence” where the pace of change is game changing for those unable to adapt and adjust fast enough.  Just like the water level at my lake house …. things can change so fast in today’s environment.  Last week, my dock was floating … this week it is far from it. The good news here is that it helps me clear the stumps and rocks around my dock.  If my business survival was at risk … not so good.

On my drive out to the lake today, I got word that one of my friends who had started a new business just last year has already had to shut it down.  We operate in a very competitive and consequential environment where even when you have a “great idea” … it takes more to navigate and survive.

Whether navigating on your lake, in your latest new start-up or in a large enterprise, we will all experience times when the water level gets low and our stumps will show.  The vital questions include:

  • Are you anticipating change by staying alert and proactive to scan for your stumps or those of your competitors? Or are you consistently getting caught by surprise?
  • Are you regularly generating confidence with all your stakeholders by staying connected with active communications, alignment and engagement?
  • Are you able to initiate action better and faster – operating with sense of urgency, empowered decision-making and active, collaborative teams?
  • Are you encouraging and liberating thinking throughout your ecosystem … maintaining customer-centric focus and valuing idea diversity?
  • Are you keeping your eye on the prize … with all stakeholders understanding what success looks like and how to measure it?

We are at the start of another new year … maybe high water for some and could be low levels filled with stumps for others.  Use these questions to try and identify some of the “stumps” in your operating system … could be with your leadership or workforce (people), might be your business processes and practices, or just might be that your technology platforms (or lack thereof) represent your biggest stumps.  Most important is that you stay alert and not be complacent.

One step you might take is consider doing your own “AGILITY AUDIT” to systematically examine those questions with your teams.  You might also consider engaging experienced third-party to help give you an objective, trained assessment.  Just like with your personal health, where it is vitally important to get your annual physical to monitor and detect things that could be life-threatening.  The Agility Audit helps examine your organizational health and fitness to face the faster paced, more demanding and much more turbulent operating environment.  How are your agility vital signs and where are your stumps?  Good to discover early before too late.

I would love to hear about your stump stories or perspectives on finding them.

About Tom O'Shea

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Tom O'Shea, CMC
Principal, Agility Consulting
Organizational Agility Practice Leader[/caption]

Volatile, unpredictable, even erratic- these are the times we live in and exactly why Tom O’Shea is considered a trusted advisor and collaborator helping leaders, teams and organizations adapt and thrive by becoming more focused, fast and flexible in an increasingly complex and ambiguous world.

 

The 5 Steps for Agility Fitness in the Gig Economy

The 5 Steps for Agility Fitness in the Gig Economy

Introduction

The volume, velocity and intensity of “noise” encountered in the Gig Economy requires the Human Resources function demonstrate agility in its policies, processes and practices to enable the organization to transform to be more Gig Economy capable. The secret to becoming more agile as an HR Team is to demonstrate that you can be focused, fast and flexible, even in the turbulent circumstances.   

The AGILE Model® offers the framework that will help you attain and sustain your HR agility fitness target as well as serve as an Agility Fitness Coach for others in the organization (Horney, Eckenrod, McKinney & Prescott, 2014).  But it takes work to achieve this agility, just like it takes work to achieve your personal physical fitness goal. 

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The Gig Economy: A Disruptor Requiring HR Agility

The Gig Economy:  A Disruptor Requiring HR Agility

The Need for HR Agility in an Era of the Gig Economy

The era of digital disruption for Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) is often referred to as the Gig Economy (AKA -- contingent work, sharing economy, agile talent, non-traditional work relationships, or alternate forms of employment) where Uber and Airbnb have received most of the attention from the press.  Other Gig Economy “digital disruptors” include Lyft (ride sharing), UpCounsel (legal experts), Instacart (shopping and delivery), and TaskRabbit (odd jobs). The rapidly accelerating growth of the Gig Economy represents one of the most significant and all-encompassing challenges faced by Human Resources professionals.  The fundamental question is 

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Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable!

Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable!

I found an unexpected inspiration while listening aimlessly to my favorite radio station (GOLF on XM) as I made the hour long drive home after attending my six year old grandson’s first swim meet 🙂.  Just to be clear, I love playing sports of all sorts and enjoy playing golf – but it just takes so much time that I normally just savor it vicariously on XM radio when I can.  This time I was listening to Michael Breed, one of the Golf Channel’s premier golf (and life) coaches, and he is talking with a women’s golf professional whose focus for improving her game is … getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. BOOM – it hits me between the eyes as a profound statement and she was just talking about her golf game.

Isn’t what she said REALLY the important message for today? 

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When Drowning Prevention Meets Business Strategy

When Drowning Prevention Meets Business Strategy

My children love the water. They swim, they splash, they laugh. 

My children, like most children, are fast. They dart, they scurry, they hide. 

Therefore, when my children encounter water, it can be an exhausting experience for my wife and me. We must be vigilant. 

The pool we frequent has lifeguards. But their vigilance will never match mine. 

Unless, of course, we’re talking about

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Time to Pivot to Agility

Time to Pivot to Agility

It’s been over 10 years now since Hurricane Katrina pummeled New Orleans and surrounding area with devastating floods, winds and destruction delivered by a prolonged LEVEL FIVE pounding from Mother Nature.  Last week, our Agility Consulting team of practice leaders and affiliates met in New Orleans to co-sponsor and participate in the 2016 HUMAN CAPITAL INSTITUTE SUMMIT.  We were there along with about 300 business and HR leaders from large and small organizations seeking new insights and success stories for how to navigate in the LEVEL FIVE VUCA we all fight each day.

Just as powerful as the forces of nature found in New Orleans ten years ago,

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Start With the Answer: Authentic Leadership

Start With the Answer: Authentic Leadership

A few weeks ago, I had a very special opportunity that refilled my enthusiasm tank for promoting real, authentic leadership.  Have you ever had the privilege of working with someone who fully exemplified the kind of role model leader that the heavy weights in leadership literature write about?  Hopefully many of you can answer affirmatively to that question and are recalling some of the best moments in those memories.  Unfortunately, not all leaders-in-the making today have that privilege and even fewer are able to get the kind of personal mentoring that happened once upon a time when things were not quite as frenetic, turbulent before LEVEL 5 VUCA became a norm. 

My replenishing moment took place up in Wilton, CT where I was conducting a

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