“The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.”

This is a profound and true declaration from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking last year at the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  His next line might be equally important … “You are rightly anxious about how quickly our existing business models are being disrupted.  Still, if you’re anxious, imagine how the folks who aren’t in this room are feeling.” 

This reminds me of a blog I wrote around the same time in January 2018 … “When the water level is low, the stumps will show” which highlights the phenomenon that some have called “accelerated obsolescence”.  Accelerated obsolescence calls out the reality that we are seeing business models, companies and leaders becoming “obsolete” at an increasingly faster and faster pace.  The same proclamation that Trudeau makes above … applies here also.  The conditions that are driving this accelerated pace of obsolescence will never be this tame again – the future will be faster, more turbulent as well as more unforgiving and consequential.  It just will.

The implications of this are equally profound … it is what we call The Agile Imperative.  Organizations and leaders can chose to do nothing and stay FRAGILE or lean into creating more adaptable, flexible and nimble organizations and operating systems … becoming more agile.  Not an easy proposition and requires more than lip service to get real transformation.

I was reading an article this morning from a KPMG paper on “market speed in the age of the connected enterprise” that was emphasizing the importance of organizational flexibility, scalability and being “decidedly human”.   Here is an excerpt … “Success in driving market speed comes through a people and culture-led approach—a decidedly human organization. New ways of working, breaking down barriers and driving toward common goals all require empowered teams.  In this new collaborative environment, there is a need to build human-centric skills. Focusing on softer skills—encouraging empathy, creativity, design thinking and emotional intelligence—complemented by relevant technical expertise will lead to new ideas, innovation and competitive advantage.”

Building a “decidedly human” aka People-First organization is both implicit and explicit in The Agile Imperative   Our people and people capabilities will be the sustainable competitive advantage … if we are able to build the agility portfolio of skills and competencies beginning with the five critical agility drivers in The Agile Model®:

  • Anticipating Change – becomes increasingly daunting for those who are not building systematic capabilities in visioning, sensing and monitoring the disruptive forces of change that can swamp us or provide us proactive competitive advantage when we become adept at adapting.
  • Generating Confidence – creating alignment and engagement of all stakeholders through active and dynamic connections … activated and alive with meaning and purpose.
  • Initiating Action – energized with empowered teams and team members collaborating with better and faster decision-making and positive urgency.
  • Liberating Thinking – actively involving all team members with strong customer-centric ethos to create value building innovation and imagination.
  • Evaluating Results – continually ratcheting team performance through active feedback loops and clear, visible success measures.

These not only represent the requisite skillset for adaptive organizations … they also represent a dynamic operating system filled with clear operating principles to guide the day to day agenda for what we do as well as “how” we do things.  You can take this short version of our Organizational Agility Profile to get a quick snapshot of how you think your organization operates in these areas.  You will get a free report back … in agile time :-).  The key will rest with how honest and candid you choose to be in answering the questions.

These are just some of the questions that we should be asking ourselves about our organizational readiness to face 2020 and beyond.  This sample has 15 questions – our full Agility Audit has 75 questions.  These are also the kinds of questions that Boards of Directors should be asking company leadership teams so they can insure shareholders are investing in companies who are equipped to succeed in the future and not be another example for the corporate graveyard … obsolete.

I welcome your feedback and inputs … happy to explore further your questions.

Tom O'Shea, CMC
Tom O’Shea, CMC

Volatile, unpredictable, even erratic- these are the times we live in and exactly why Tom O’Shea is considered a trusted advisor and collaborator helping leaders, teams and organizations adapt and thrive by becoming more focused, fast and flexible in an increasingly complex and ambiguous world.

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Tom O'Shea, CMC

Volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) - these are the times we live in and exactly why Tom O’Shea is considered a trusted advisor helping leaders, teams and organizations adapt and thrive to navigate VUCA and deliver future success.

Tom brings a unique blend of strategic, operational and organizational expertise that is rare and valuable.  With perceptive insight, proven strategies and impactful coaching skills, he helps clients at the enterprise, team and individual leader levels exceed even their own expectations.

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