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Given the rate of change around you... will your teams be agile enough?

We invite you to take a pencil to a quick organizational agility assessment. It will give you a fresh perspective on your organization, as a world-class learning organization might view it. Then, with aid of the page on interpreting your scores, follow up by using your assessment as a strategic conversation-starter; "Given the rate of change around us... do you think that we will be agile enough going forward the way we are doing things now? Would you score these questions differently than I did? If so, what is it that we see differently - and where do we agree?"

A path to agility – (re)integrate the ways that you learn, lead and execute

Almost every established organization tries to develop its leaders, improve execution, and support learning – yet these investments frequently fail to transform results. They “miss the boat” for a simple reason: Separation of learning from leading, leading from execution, execution from learning is a structural change that maturing organizations typically have made in the name of efficiency. Yet that move toward efficiency brought with it many (often hidden) agility costs – for instance, delays in translation, areas of white space where there is no accountability, and rigid following of plans and procedures even as the circumstances they were based upon are changing, etc..

So how to rebuild the levels of agility that we need?

Try this: Imagine transforming learning as something only done in classrooms – to a process built into the existing rhythms of normal work. In organizations that do this, the stovepipes separating leading, learning and execution (LLE) begin to blur. One of the reasons that startups are so agile and innovative is simply that there is a lack of separation of these three elements. The good news is that by making this shift, much of that vitality can be reclaimed in mature organizations.

One pathway is to introduce simple mechanisms to restore these lost linkages within the execution of key projects. You can rebuild LLE integration into your existing business processes gradually – from the strategic all the way down to the daily rhythm of operational processes. Small changes will yield impressive improvements.

Here are a few examples of simple mechanisms, taken from the Action Review Cycle (ARC), and what they typically accomplish:

  • A brief Before Action Review when transitioning from planning to action builds a foundation for execution to stay coordinated - even amid change;
  • Short reviews throughout a project (rather than one comprehensive review at the end) encourages rapid course correction;
  • Placing all current strategic initiatives on one wall with post-its allows a quick test for coherence and enhances the line of sight for everyone from vision to execution;
  • Leaders at every level building a simple habit - communicating the purpose of the action with the plan, then asking for a brief back from implementers in order to check for alignment, is a surprisingly powerful discipline that spurs alignment and the emergence of innovations.
  • To assure that learning is integrated, aim it directly at the links between leadership vision and execution. Leaders focus on the one or two performance challenges their organizations face which, if their people could master, would make the biggest contribution to bottom-line performance.

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