We are living in a time of great change. Bigger change. Faster change. More complex change. More cross-functional change. More multi-disciplinary change. At the same time, we are more connected and processing more information than we ever have had in the past.
To be successful in this environment of rapid, concurrent and never-ending change, organizations must grow their change agility not just to thrive, but to survive. In fact, senior leaders are starting to acknowledge how important agility is to their success. In a PwC survey of 1150 CEOs, 76% said that their ability to adapt to change will be a key source of competitive advantage in the future. A study by McKinsey found that 9 out of 10 executives said organizational agility was critical to business success and growing in importance over time. And the Project Management Institute's Organizational Agility Report introduced the following equation: greater organizational agility = better performance = improved competitive advantage.
The winners of the future will be those who can out-change the competition and the market. While agility is getting plenty of publicity, there is still a gap in understanding what agility really means and what attributes agile organizations share. This paper explores organizational agility to add clarity, shared understanding and direction for those who are committing to building this crucial capability.
“Agility” has certainly gained buzz status in recent years. Across the literature, you’ll discover many different definitions of agility. Below are just a few:
Each of these definitions offer glimpses into the definition of agility, and there are some common themes that emerged across many of the definitions. Prosci synthesized these definitions to arrive at six definition components:
Prosci conducted a webinar on building organizational agility with over 500 participants. During the webinar, attendees voted for which definition components resonated the most for them. The results shown below indicate that three definition elements were favored: an always present ability in the fabric of the organization, anticipating and being tuned in to coming changes, and preparation for both proactive (planned) and reactive (unplanned) changes.
While there is not a singular view or definition of “organizational agility,” there is value and added depth to the “agility” conversation from exploring the various components of the definition to see which make sense and will resonate with your colleagues, coworkers and collaborators.
After exploring the definition, the conversation quickly shifts to: what attributes do agile organizations share that make them agile? As with the definition, there are various perspectives put forth in this arena. Prosci surveyed the literature and found a number of contributors who provided their own “pillars” of agile organizations:
Based on this collection of input, along with our own research and experience with clients, Prosci created the 10 attributes of agile organizations.
We wrote these 10 attributes as “we” statements to provide a certain context as well as enable evaluation in an Agility Attributes Assessment. At the simplest form, consider each statement and rank your organization on a Strongly disagree – Strongly agree scale. The result could look something like what is shown below:
During Prosci’s “Building Organizational Agility” webinar, over 250 participants completed the assessment described above in real-time. The results are shown below.
The attributes that respondents scored the highest were:
The attributes that respondents scored the lowest were:
Given the changing world and executive attention being paid to agility, there is tremendous potential to help embed agility as a “state of being” for organizations who want to be the winners of the future.
We started exploring change agility given the fact that an organizational change management capability shows up so prominently as a crucial enabler of agility. It is one of the three PMI pillars, one of the five PwC pillars and two of the nine Accenture pillars. Prosci has spent over a decade researching and developing how organizations move past a project-by-project approach to change management and build true organizational change management capability. Here are a few areas where Prosci helps bring this research and development to life:
The velocity of change is not slowing down and the importance of delivering expected results and outcomes in times of change is only increasing. In order to out-change the competition, customer demands and the markets, organizations need to take seriously the effort of building their change agility to equip themselves for what lies ahead.