Perfectly positioned

how to start on the path toward organizational agility


By Sergio Luis Conte, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA, PMP

When top tennis stars like Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer play, they always seem to be in the right place at the right time. It's as if the ball is hit directly to them. Part of this is obviously due to the players’ quickness and fitness level. But what is not always obvious is that the players are applying their knowledge to create their future. By anticipating where the opponent will hit the ball, they can be perfectly positioned to respond.

Organizational agility has the same goal: using knowledge and organizational structures to get in position to respond quickly to the changing environment and even to create changes in the environment. But working toward organizational agility takes effort. Here are some tips to help organizations beginning to explore the process.

Understand what agility is. There's a lot of misunderstanding in the market; agility is not only related to software or IT. Agility is not a method or methodology. In reality, agility is an enterprise-wide concept useful in any sector.

Evaluate the impact to implement it. Agility will transform your whole organizational structure or enterprise architecture. All organizational components and their relations will be affected. Before starting, conduct a gap analysis of the current enterprise architecture and the desired future enterprise architecture. This is necessary to define the problem that will be solved by the transformation to organizational agility. (The tool I use to integrate all this is Tom Peters’ 7S Model described in the book In Search of Excellence.)

Make the transformation by evolution, not by revolution. Don't transform everything in one shot. There is a lot in the organization—especially organizational knowledge—that can be reused or can be leveraged to a new state. Remember that organizational agility is a matter of reconfiguring organizational structures and ability to find appropriate ways to apply organizational knowledge.

Agility does not come in a can. Author and agile expert Rick Dove stresses this point. Becoming agile doesn't involve an easy-to-follow recipe. You need to adjust your implementation using the tools, methods and techniques that best fit your situation.

Organizational culture enables change. You need to create an adaptable structure that can be changed when needed as easily as a child changes a Lego creation. The organizational culture will enable the right change at the right time. In my last initiative, we helped create an environment that contributes to organizational agility with Franklin Covey's Speed of Trust method, which aims to make trust between co-workers a strategic advantage for an organization.

Consider the business analyst. The role of business analyst could help to create the transformation you're seeking. Business analysts identify business needs and recommend relevant solutions—and the implementation of agility is certainly a business need. PM

img Sergio Luis Conte, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA, PMP, is a senior program supervisor at PepsiCo., Buenos Aires, Argentina.




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