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Organizational Agility

- Indrani Roy

The business environment is fast changing. Organisations, to survive and be competitive in such a dynamic environment must be flexible and adaptive; in effect be agile. Organisational agility is this character in an organization that prepares it to remain relevant in the midst of change by changing itself. Needless to say, it is more relevant to long standing Organisations as opposed to 'startups' which by definition and structure are agile.

Organizational Agility is the ability of an enterprise to:

The higher the organizational agility, the higher the chances of efficiently addressing the challenges thrown in by new rivals, new technologies, and dynamic market environments. As the marketplace is not as stable as before, ignoring the trending project methodologies is like taking a shot in the dark, which leads you nowhere.

A recent PMI global report conveyed that organizations with highly developed organizational agility showed better collaboration, communication, and flexibility had 78% of their projects meeting original goals and 64% were executed on time and 66% within budget. The comparable percentages were 56%, 42% and 45% for organisations with poorly developed organisational agility. This is a clear indication how organizational agility impacts project outcomes.

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Prosci's Building Organization Agility webinar in February 2016 involved 250 participants. Figure 2 depicts the capabilities they strongly opine that their enterprises have accomplished through organizational agility. [See Fig. 2; Source: Prosci's Agility Attributes Assessment]

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The biggest benefit is in 'cross organisational collaboration' (70%). Large organisations try hard to achieve this. The next is 'Anticipation & plans for changes (45%); this is the 'willingness to change' mindset. There is an element of risk when changes occur, it is not surprising to see 42% have assessed 'Improved risk management practices'.

Organizational agility is not a choice but a necessity. To code it into an organisation's DNA the leadership has to engender a culture that promotes agility. The most important are :

  1. Promote actionable to-dos for the future.
  2. Collate data to understand future market and go for enterprise-wide decision-making.
  3. Be clear on business goals and have room for modifications as well.
  4. Reward and acknowledge innovation.
  5. Value new ideas and positive changes more than corporate hierarchy.
  6. Simplify complex systems for minimum supervision during execution.
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  8. Create and follow the best practices for the management of change, risk, etc. of project/program/portfolio(s)
  9. Evaluate organizational strengths and weaknesses to accordingly optimize efforts.
  10. Create a more flexible structure, service management system, and training processes.
  11. Serve effectually, function proficiently, and deliver swiftly to meet strategic goals.

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What inhibits organizational agility? Let us look into the top four challenges.

The agile values have to be aligned with company's values (63%). A coach with experience is necessary (47%) to carry forward the 'organisational agility' agenda. The management will have to support the initiative (45%) as the transition is not always smooth. Finally, the 'status quo' needs to give place to 'change is necessary' mindset (43%).

Conclusion

To reap the benefits of organizational agility, dependable practices and procedures that demonstrate innovation, flat decision making, 'startup' culture should be followed. Communication tools across the organization for interactions between team members, stakeholders, sponsors, and PMOs must be effective. Experts should be brought in to train the people to think new. Finally, internal support, and sponsorship is a necessity to transform an organization.

"This article is owned by Computer Aid Inc aka CAI (http://www.compaid.co.in). The person mentioned in the author's section coordinated to get necessary approvals to publish in PM Essence for sharing the knowledge with Project Management Community."

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