In a previous blog, I shared thoughts on “learning organizations” where leaders are less constrained by structure and processes, where underwritten failures build trust, and where a vision is a unifying force for organizational effectiveness. In this piece, I’d like to dive further into why “learning organizations” are, by nature, more competitive due to their ability to adapt to changing circumstances and outpace competitors. This agility requires proper organizational structure, proactive information flow, and strategic leaders who champion dialogue and feedback necessary to drive organizational change.
Fostering an agility mindset in your workforce, (I define this as innovating, adapting, and generating new opportunities), proper organizational structure must be in place. Employees must know their roles and how they fit into achieving the greater purpose of the company. When an employee has a clear job description, performance objectives, and goals to achieve, their intrinsic motivation to succeed increases exponentially.
If organizational leadership aligns goals with capturing and rewarding employee initiative, the organization can and will adapt quickly as change or opportunity presents itself. Organizations that lack this structure suffer from failures in timely decision-making, micromanagement, lack of real-time information flow, and lack of creativity because “good ideas” aren’t reported, let alone decided upon.
Organizational agility requires a real-time collaboration and feedback mechanism maintained by representatives from across the breadth and depth of the organization. Organizations with an information flow process, where empowered employees think, innovate, debate, and decide together while receiving the buy-in and commitment from the C-Suite, will outpace and out-advantage their competition. Organizations that rely on traditional methods of centralized C-Suite decision-making and a more siloed system of information inputs and outputs are slower to change and adapt due to the time it takes to get a decision.
I discuss the importance of dialogue and feedback with almost every leader and organization I work with. Why? Because these processes are traditionally difficult for most leaders to embrace and inculcate into their organizations. Organizations that use a systemized approach where information flows through the organization at all levels help decision-makers at all tiers achieve the synchronization necessary to navigate change with the highest levels of agility.
Organizations with strategic leaders can rapidly assess the changing competitive landscape, avoid threats, and seize opportunities are winners. When I say strategic, I mean leaders who align their purpose and goals to the company’s purpose and objectives, leaders who creatively solve problems by taking risks, and leaders who develop other leaders. Industry desperately needs leadership capable of objectively rethinking old, pre-COVID-19 realities to take advantage of new remote or hybrid opportunities.
Leaders who are the “fallback plan” or fixers for their teams will not generate agility; rather, they will maintain their position as a single “reliable” point of failure and hold the organization back. What if leaders lead a brainstorming session to generate creative and innovative solutions or lead a post-mortem exercise to assess what could have been done better next time?
In my experience as a leader, even the most traditional organizations can implement efficient information flow and build the structure necessary to harness agility. But to do these things, leaders must be trained to harness the true potential of initiative-driven employees who solve problems, question norms, and take risks. Then you will have agility in your organization.
Solutions 21 can help your organization compete in today’s exciting new marketplace where the agile come out on top!
We forge elite leaders.