What is organisational agility?

By Stephen Hughes

Organisational agility is a way of organising and working shown to drive top-tier financial performance.

The top organisations in terms of financial performance are more likely to show five characteristics. They centre on their customers, speed up time to value, design for simplicity, build to evolve and liberate their people. We call this organisational agility.

The five dimensions of organisational agility

The five characteristics we mention above are tough to achieve, but we know the top 10 per cent of businesses by financial performance are 30 per cent better at embedding them. So, what do these aspects of organisational agility really mean?

Centre on your customer

Centring on customers is about really paying attention to what customers are saying and listening to their feedback, bringing them into the innovation process and using data to prioritise according to customer needs. This is key to anticipating customer trends and quickly responding to changing demands.

Speed up time to value

Speeding up time to value means making decisions and mobilising quickly in response to competition, rolling out improvements faster than competitors and investing in moving from idea to launch at pace. A great idea is most valuable when it’s launched before a competitor’s.

Design for simplicity

Designing a business for simplicity requires building teams around products and services rather than skills, empowering people to make decisions and creating a flat organisational structure. Such a business design removes barriers to doing great work.

Build to evolve

Being able to evolve continuously is about seeking out and accepting changes at any point in the development cycle, having modular digital systems that can flex easily to respond to changing requirements and building teams that cope well with change. Too often we see organisations reluctant to change course and committed to ideas that used to work but now seem dated.

Liberate your people

Liberating your people is about having a dynamic company culture, empowering all people to contribute ideas, and setting up technology, infrastructure and workspaces for collaboration. It’s impossible to have organisational agility without giving people the freedom to be agile.

Embracing organisational agility

These five characteristics are the elements of organisational agility that our research shows correspond to top-tier financial performance. By embracing all five, it’s possible for any organisation to work in aware, alert, inclusive and responsive teams where people tune into and bounce off each other, attentively and rapidly responding to customers and competition. Always one step ahead.

About the authors

Stephen Hughes PA IT transformation expert Stephen is a leader in Lean and Agile methodologies having driven adoption of Agile at a number of our largest clients.

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