Every company is going through the phase of digitization and confronted with constant change. As a consequence, agility is a big buzzword these days.
New resolutions are made, policies are crafted. But what does agility even mean? How do executives know their company is agile and to which extent are their employees supportive towards agility? What are the necessary steps to achieve agility within an enterprise?
Basically, agility consists of three things: flexibility, adaptability, initiative.
This means that the company, a team, even a single person needs to learn the ability to adjust to situational conditions. Not only by reacting to market changes – they need to operate by themselves and take the initiative to push things forward. It’s a huge challenge to implement agility within an enterprise.
Different areas – different forms of agility
Since the conditions and characteristics of different companies vary significantly, it is a major challenge to define and measure agility within your own enterprise. Each corporate’s culture is different and consists of subcultures, which differ as well. In most jobs, it cannot be integrated from one day to another, a huge process of change is needed.
Agility is based on the personal mindset, attitude and image of a human being, which cannot be altered that easily. Executives need to be concerned about:
- What is agility for our business, our company, our product(s)?
- What does agility mean for each division of our company?
KPI, hard facts & soft facts
After defining what agility is, proper KPI need to settled.
You need to keep in mind: There is no “one size fits all”, hard and soft facts need to be scaled.
KPI of hard facts can be covered in numbers and added easily in systems. Generally, these KPI consist of measurements of time, quality and quantity.
Soft facts are composed of human KPI and are more difficult to measure.
A fitting attitude, digital mindset, mood and behaviour of a human being come into play here.
Of course not every process step can be agile. But the company’s mindset needs to be agile. It’s not about just knowing what being agile means, it’s about including this comprehension into the employee life cycle. Therefore, it needs to be included in all activities and instruments of HR – performance management, employee dialogue, recruiting, objective agreements – all of these matters need to be based on agility.
Due to this, it’s not enough to have employee dialogues once a year.
They should occur on a regular basis, even though it might just be a quick survey check-in:
E. g. Are executives and employees geared up to work agile? How autonomous can people work within this process of change? Peer and team feedback act a part towards implementing agility.
Let’s take a look at communication. It’s a major soft fact and the main requirement for agility. Obviously it differs in each company and corporate division. That’s the reason why surveys need to flexible enough so that the set of questions can be adjusted individually for each division.
Agility is a matter of human-beings. Measurements in human areas are a way larger challenge than measurements in the process of production. After all, agility is not only about organizing processes, it is way more important to figure out how to tackle individual tasks. Executives for example need to observe that not every employee wishes to work flexible: There is a huge amount of people that prefer working from 9am to 5pm in their workplace office over flexitime or remote-work. Therefore an agile mindset encourages both forms. And this mindset can only be adjusted with continuous dialogue.
Executives and their competencies are a huge influencing factor for the entire agility of an enterprise. It’s not just about their professional competence, moreover it is important to know:
- How flexible and adaptive have they been before?
- How self-aware and self-critical is the manager concerning himself and his leadership style?
- Is that person willing to expand their comfort zone and content to learn new things?
How to imply agility sustainably?
What is the next step after examining what agility for your enterprise means and acquiring a suitable mix of hard and soft KPI?
- Understanding: Where am I right now? How are current relationships within my employees? What other players do I have? How is their and my digital mindset?
- Step by step introduction: It is not a good approach to introduce agility within an entire company at once. This leads to more issues rather than achievements. More success is granted by taking small and easy steps first. This could be stand-ups in the mornings which review what needs to be done that day. Working on that and adding new steps at a time leads to “pillars” within each division. This ensures a better overview of what steps are even convenient and useful.
- Involvement: As already mentioned, agility is based on human beings. As fast as things develop in the digital era, it is especially important to involve the affected employees. Therefore, it is essential to recognise the challenges and hurdles a human being has. Particularly in times of change processes this could be insecurities. Executives and personnel managers should keep focus on addressing these insecurities and fears.
Tripping hazards & best practices
Since measuring agility within your enterprise is quite complex and difficult, there are a lot of tripping hazards you can avoid.
A common mistake is to think that buying a certain tool makes the employees agile instantly. Implementing agility is a long and troublesome process. Each employee needs his own time to adapt to the process. Especially top management staff underestimate the time and engagement needed. Another frequent mistake is conveying the patterns of agility that worked quite well for one division into another one: E. g. An approach might work marvellously for IT, but it doesn’t mean that this method is a fitting one for the Sales department. Therefore, managers need to figure out how to adopt agility individually in each division.
Summing up: implementing, measuring and reinforcing agility is a difficult and toilsome process, which is underestimated way too often. But agility can pose a huge benefit that leads to major competitive advantages over other companies.
If you struggle defining what agility for your company is or which KPI might be beneficial to reach your vision, feel free to set up a free consultation appointment at teambay. We will be pleased to provide some further assistance.