Making a case for organisational agility (I)

To develop a real organisational aptitude, you have to get better at doing CM, grow more expertise and build new skills across the organisation. In this series, we help you make a case for agility, bringing CM into the equation.

author picture Article written by Vincent PIEDBOEUF

You are obviously very familiar with the term agility, that winning combination of flexibility, durability, rapidity and adaptability. Develop it, and you will prosper. But how many times have you heard that there is no need for CM to build organisational agility, just a change platform and the right aptitude? Such an assertion is both false –  like saying “you don’t need physical exercise, just stay healthy” – and fraught with serious consequences. To develop a real organisational aptitude, you have to get better at doing CM, grow more expertise and build new skills across the organisation. In this series, we help you make a case for agility, bringing CM into the equation.  

Start by reviewing triggers and drivers of change.

Changes are growing bigger, multiplying at a faster pace than ever before, sometimes overlapping to the point of saturation. In other words, the time span of a single ambitious project is now shorter and multiple initiatives are being undertaken all at once. Not only that, the morphology of changes is also more complex. Problems, opportunities, current aspirations and future development plans are all intertwined. This calls for equally complex solutions that may involve several departments and bring together multiple disciplines. The latter point is particularly challenging. At the end of day, enabling change(s) requires the integration of a vast array of systems, ranging from Project Management and process optimisation, to strategy, communication and of course, Change Management.

To navigate through the maze, you need to take stock of every change trigger and goal - either internal or external - you might think of. The following table may help you lay the groundwork for a more coherent effort to push organisational agility and associated facilitation systems higher on the agenda.

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What others say…

Once the inventory has been completed, it is easy to see how “organisational agility” can help advance competitiveness. According to a worldwide survey conducted by PwC, 76% of business leaders equate developing an ability to change with gaining competitive advantage. McKinsey put forward similar staggering numbers, with 90% of respondents declaring that agility is a key success factor, steadily growing in importance. It is all the more urgent to step up efforts that change saturation plagues many organisations. That is the case for 73% of the people surveyed, compared to only 59% a few years earlier. The problem is getting worse and brings with it frustration among employees. Organisations are spread too thin to focus on their core business. Saturation translates into missed deadlines, shrinking resources and short-lived results. So, in order to craft a truly compelling discourse, highlight the cost of failing to tackle this issue.

Context, issue, language … the three-pronged approach to “sell it”.

To be convincing, all you need to do is reframe the discourse, away from generic facts or worse, technicalities. To stress the importance of agility, provide context and start the conversation with a strong why (see the “sources of change” matrix above). As business founder Eifanbaum once said, “an ounce of context is worth a pound of isolated facts”. We live in an era of unprecedented and accelerating changes, triggered both internally and externally, where keeping a leading edge takes consistent and structured efforts. Agility can give you just that: the ability to survive and thrive in a competitive and fast-paced environment.

Also, focus on the real issue. The key problem leaders are faced with is certainly not the lack of organisational agility per se. What they did is to invest heavily, politically and financially, in a portfolio of changes. What they now need is to harvest the full benefits. That is the crux of it.

Last but not least, speak their language. Common wisdom holds that “finance” is the best pick to communicate with leaders. The fact is that you have to translate the value of agility into something they do not only understand, but are truly familiar with and have a vested interest in. Consider key themes like strategy execution, key competence, competitive advantage and personal perks (i.e their salary, succession, etc…). Meet leaders on their own ground and start discussing future actions! If you are looking for some “good pitch” examples, check out the table below and peruse our related articles.

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