Based on our decades of experience in creating organizational agility in real life, there are six properties that organizations that are leaders in agility will possess.
First, those organizations that are leaders in agility, don’t merely meet their customer’s requirements, they produce products/services that create customer requirements to which competitors must respond, because this is what creates competitive advantage. If yours is an organization that provides an internal service (e.g., Finance, HR, IT, Legal, etc.), you may think that you’re not in a competitive situation. As I point out in my post, “A Special Message to Internal Service Providers”, you will want to think again.
Second, those organizations that are leaders in agility, value speed. By “speed” I mean getting the actual time it takes to execute a process down to as near its theoretical minimum as possible. They do this because speed is important for: adapting to change; building skill; and lowering cost. Speed is important to adapting to change, thus creating customer requirements to which competitors must respond, only if your environment is highly dynamic and fast moving; it’s less important in those environments that are highly static and slow moving. Speed is important in building skill because the only way to get better at anything is through practice; and those who can get through a process in one week will get four times the practice of those who take a month to get through a process. For example, if your product development process requires 18-months, and your competitor’s product development process requires only 6-months, they get three times the practice with their product development process than you do. Finally, speed is important in keeping costs low because four-week processes are more expensive than one-week processes.
Third, those organizations that are leaders in agility, measure productivity as
Productivity = Outputs / Inputs
with balanced focus on both the numerator and the denominator, because a pattern of decision-making that favors one more than the other is suicidal.
Fourth, those organizations that are leaders in agility, focus on cost effectiveness, versus cost reduction, by eliminating waste in money, material, time, talent and opportunity. This is because cost effectiveness is good management, whereas cost reduction is a desperate tactic invoked in the wake of poor management.
Fifth, those organizations that are leaders in agility, pursue life-long learning and the empirical application of that learning, because it is important to continuous improvement, which is necessary to produce products/services that create customer requirements to which competitors must respond.
Finally, those organizations that are leaders in agility, practice decision-making that holds all stakeholders in balanced regard, because when one adopts a pattern of decision-making that creates benefit for one stakeholder group at the expense of another, they de-value their organization.