Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity: those are the characteristics that best describe the world we live in. To outlast the shocks and be successful in the long run, organisational agility is of paramount importance. PMI is making a very clear equation between greater agility and performance, performance and advanced competitive advantage. But what exactly does agility – not the method (AGILE), but the buzzing adjective – mean? It is first and foremost a way of being, characterised by flexibility, durability, velocity and adaptability. It comes as no surprise that Change Management consistently ranks as an essential contributor.
We have done the homework for you and put together a list of relevant definitions as a prelude to introducing PROSCI’s 10 attributes of agile organisations. Here are the key takeaways we have captured.
“Being agile” across and beyond definitions.
Hidden behind the sheer number of definitions of “agile” (as an adjective) are 6 main components. First of all, there is no such thing as “practicing or doing agility”. You either are agile, or you are not. The goal is to make it a permanent aptitude, part of who you are as an organisation. Second, agility is a significant source of competitive advantage since future winners will be those who leapfrog their competitors. Third, it is a matter of alignment with the (changing) environment. It takes anticipation and a capacity to adapt to whatever comes your way. Another key component is swiftness. It is the ability to be quicker in the way you internalize, respond, react, seize opportunities or deal with issues provoked by change. Fifth, being agile requires proactivity (careful planning) and reactivity (to unexpected events). And last but not least is the notion of minimal interference. Agility not only helps deal with change; it also prevents performance losses.
Pillars of Agility: CM as a core competence.
Most prominent Management Consulting agencies identify CM as a key ingredient to cope with constantly changing markets.
For PMI, it is the very first pillar, along with a collective management of risks and standardisation of PM (Project Management) practices.
We hear similar things from PWC, which defines agility as the capacity to anticipate, simplify, innovate, create new aptitudes and, interestingly, effectively deal with the human side of change. People are the real cornerstones of change and the very raison d’être of CM.
Among other factors such as adaptive working routines and culture, human capital, recycling and redeployment, collaboration and talents management, Accenture highlights leaders’ ability to drive the change and CM as core a competence.
Specialising in visual and strategic thinking, Xplane identify 8 pillars, ranging from clarity, inspiration, visual alignment, co-creation and action … to transparence, harmony and resilience. We can easily see how much of a determining factor human performance really is.
Among the 7 contributors identified, Daryl Conner underscored intentions, leadership, culture and roles … thus also placing the human workforce center stage.
While I4CP equates financial health and performance with organisational agility, Change Management goes once again beyond one-shot projects to establish itself as an overarching competence. It is paired with environmental analysis, decentralisation, a culture of lifelong learning, empowerment and recruitment policies based on values.
Even if these definitions and research-based insights into what agility is can feel a bit overwhelming, fear not. Our partner PROSCI mixed and matched these notions to create a user-friendly checklist of 10 attributes. Notice that these are expressed as a “we-endeavor”, one that requires from everyone an intense participation. How does your organisation stack up against these attributes? Whatever the response, we are pretty sure we can help take things to the next level. So feel free to browse our previous articles and stay tuned for more on the topic!
 See (PMI) Pulse of Profession report.
 Along with portfolio management, implementation and results.