We are now ready to move on to the penultimate of the 8 "key themes" for driving sustainable organisational performance identified in the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) report "Sustainable Organisation Performance: What Really Makes the Difference." This week we will look at: "Agility."
The report defines this as, "The ability to stay open to new directions and be continually proactive, helping to assess the limits or indeed risks of existing approaches and ensuring that leaders and followers have an agile and change-ready mindset to enable them and ultimately the organisation to keep moving, changing, adapting."
Once again this seems obvious. So it is really frightening, given the pace of change and the nature of competition, to realise that this theme was only identified in Phase 2 of the research and not from the start. Let us have a look at what the report says agility entails to see just how surprising this is.
- An appreciation of the current organisational challenges enables an agile mindset;
- People at all levels need to be 'change-ready' in both good as well as changing times if lasting organisational agility is to be achieved;
- It is important to also consider an organisation's history when embedding agility;
- A silo mentality between different parts of the organisation can undermine agility;
- Organisations need to balance the rigorous management of resources with organisational agility;
- A focus on continuous improvement is good for the long-term but you have to get the balance right.
I don't know about you, but my immediate reaction to this is a rather sarcastic, "No! Really?" It is all so obvious and once again the report is good at telling you what is required, but completely fails to give you any real insight as to how. So once again you can challenge it by asking how it helps you shape the future.
Certainly the report gives you little idea as to how create such organisational agility. Once again the case studies and stories tell you what the organisations involved did without telling you how they did it. Short of describing the need for improved communication there is nothing that tells you how you create the agility you are seeking. And there is nothing here that makes the connection to the first theme - alignment.
Yes I am biased and would love to see more of the ideas I am promoting. So naturally I find it extremely disappointing that there is nothing here that:-
- Encourages an understanding of your organisational challenges through greater employee ownership.
- Makes people more change-ready because there is nothing to make it worth their while. After all, your frontline people probably have a better understanding of the issues because of their proximity to the customer and their dealings with day-to-day operations.
- Does not build the future from the past. Thus it fails to introduce new approaches that inspire agility.
- Breaks down the silo mentality in the way universal employee ownership and the shared sense of the organisation as a super-team would.
- Builds-in continuous improvement through the universal desire to optimise results.
But surely you would expect to find more ideas like that if you are looking to shape the future. Wouldn't you? Especially if you are looking to shape a better future with greater employee engagement!