Agility – not just a buzzword

Agility – not just a buzzword

by Klaus-Michael Erben

Based on learnings using crowd intelligence in two separate dialogues on January 28th and April 14th 2015, we derived five lessons in connection with eight imperatives to reflect upon how to improve on agility. With few exceptions the need for agility is mostly anchored in external effects (market, technologies) and less in internal factors. Almost everybody sees agility as important or critical. But, while most acknowledge a gap from best practice, they argue whether agility should be part of their personal performance evaluation.

These five recommendations emerged:

  1. Become more agile by creating strategies built around extensive listening
    to the customer and the market, which proactively reflect digital trends
  2. Create an entrepreneurial organisational culture relying on trust, involvement, flexibility, risk taking, a bias for action and ongoing learning from mistakes
  3. Watch out for key blockers – top dogs afraid of new ways of working and excessive internal complexity
  4. Add value through an operational approach with agility-related KPI’s for areas like meetings, reports or protocols designed for agility, the provision of open spaces for innovative thinking, and fostering open feedback for learning
  5. Encourage management to cross hierarchical boundaries, using engagement opportunities and learning curricula, to improve agility.

Eight top tips: must-haves from the dialogues:

  1. Agility to respond appropriately
  2. People from different backgrounds to broaden thinking
  3. Engagement, empowerment and collaboration
  4. Give people the right to make mistakes, to speak-up about red lights or cxontroversial issues and to experiment in new ways of working
  5. Put the decision power in the team, not at the top.
  6. Ensure meetings, protocols and reports have clear added value – or drop them
  7. Balance ‘lean working‘ with soace for innovation
  8. Resist old ways of working. Initiating change helps to improve agility.

Download the full report here


by Klaus Michael Erben