As the freshmen year commences, Beloit College releases a reference list “called the mindset list”, which shows the professors, cultural references that no longer resonate with younger generations. For e.g. for the class of 2019- as per the list, Google has always been there! They are used to googling for any help in schoolwork or otherwise. What is interesting more than the list, is that colleges who could have imposed hegemony, instead are ensuring lecturers and counsellors make the effort to be more adaptive and willing to unlearn and re-learn how to deal with every new batch that comes in.
Unless and until we are agile to the changes that happen around us, progress to the next level is hindered. As with colleges, so with organizations being adaptive and agile with the trends around us is an important factor. The willingness to get out of one’s comfort zone, while learning continuously and having the humility to accept change is a differentiating factor amongst those who are successful and those who are not. Leaders who are able to influence change in their organizations, need to be the driving force, in making agility the mainstay culture. Why? Just, look at the various factors that propel growth-technology, markets, customers and socio-economic environment. All these factors are in constant flux.
Technology firms are leading the charge in being disruptive organizations and path breakers. They have created segments and markets where none existed, before. It’s no wonder then, that agile is the new buzz, be it in software development or in project management. The main benefit of agile thinking is, it brings about an ability to respond to issues as they arise. For example, making a necessary change to a project at the right time can save resources and, ultimately, help deliver a successful project on time and within budget. Agile organisations pursue a program of short-term competitive advantages, which progress to its logical conclusion, before moving onto the next. This brings in fluidity, to how organizations react to any change- an ability to internalize and yet deliver on any unforeseen changes. From a Human Resources perspective, agility is to ensure that employees have the skills and abilities to respond quickly to new development and at the same time, ensure that they are able to build in cohesiveness into the process.
In an information over-laden industry, like the IT services sector, the nimbleness of an organization depends on knowledge flow within the firm. Here is a list of five, important factors that contribute to ensuring agility within organizations
- Continuous Learning – Willingness to learn , relearn and increase information. A well-practiced and thorough knowledge is a good quality to have, but if the knowledge stagnates due to a lack of new insights, changes, transformations, that information becomes redundant. An incremental change in information is essential to learning
- Fluid Workforce – Many organizations regularly transform & revamp departments or reassign people across projects. And these are just not structural changes but include goals and methodology changes. This brings a sense of flux and removes complacency and familiarity from the system
- Adaptive Planning – The organisation needs to be able to plan and execute simultaneously. Sequential planning leads to a very rigid implementation approach, whereas adaptive planning allows many course-corrections along the way
- R&D – An investment in experimentation and research to change the design thinking of an organization should be an ongoing effort. If organizations rely only, on regular and daily deliveries, they are going to be exhausted with rote experience in a few years.
- Time-Value Performance – With shorter lifecycles in an agile project management methodology, it becomes imperative that the value that is delivered even in those short intervals is of significant impact. The best way to enable this, is to have a feedback mechanism within shorter intervals.