As a former top athlete, I was not so nimble, but strong. It was all about physical strength, speed and endurance. The ability to move quickly and easily wasn’t called “agility” in those days even though I see a lot of similarities between sports and business. In a world of accelerating change, increasing complexity and rising polarization between people, we need to find new ways to unlock ourselves from slow-moving. We need to keep an open mind and anticipate solution for tomorrow’s challenges. To nurture that change, leadership style, change management and culture are main drivers to shape agility. They eat it or feed it.
People are Key
It is simple: A company can’t change by itself; it has to be done by the people. And this means that people need to be open for innovation. To do so, the company has to listen to employees’ needs and adapt accordingly. Communication is key. If that is not the case, constant changes and new goals can be like an earthquake for the company. I have seen an example where an insurer got really stuck as people could not relate to the management and the rapid changes being made to face the challenges in the market. People felt that they were no longer being seen and deep down they were looking for recognition and support to deal with their fears about the changing environment.
To me agility is a way of working. If people are not behind the things we do, we won’t get far. The fastest way to create a common understanding of what’s best to do for each and everyone is to place myself into the skin of the other. “You haven’t walked in my boots, so how are you going to judge me?” as the old saying goes. That’s why I try to deeply understand what it means to walk in the boots of someone else. What is the other feeling, thinking? What are his or her pains and gains? What wakes them up during the night? What are they truly longing for? I then do experience that our basic human needs are not so different after all. We all look for protection, affection, understanding, creation, freedom and more of such common things. Especially on the journey of agility, we need to share our personal stories and experiences around those common values. That’s in my view the foundation of a winning team of which we all like to be part.
Collaborative and supportive environment
Two additional ingredients for a winning team in being agile are, from my vision, diversity and inclusion. Combining different backgrounds of people, experiences, and perspectives leads to breakthroughs. That’s why I love to work with creative labs, group dialogues and peer friendly coaching sessions to activate the soul of an organization or even a professional sector. Working in an intergenerational environment is also very important as the generations tend to have a very different approach to business. In that way, I try to create a collaborative and supportive environment that increases the participation and contribution of all people involved in the change process.