We all strive for it and it features prominently in our business cases as the hallowed ground that will be reached ‘if you just sign off on this next program…’ However, a very small number, possibly even a single digit percentage of organisations are truly agile.
Why is agility to hard to achieve? Well the answer is staring us in the face and it’s quite confronting. First let me tell you a wee story of how I learnt what being agile really meant.
Many years ago I desperately wanted to buy a house, a place to call my own. So I started looking in all of the suburbs that appealed at homes that I liked the look of or that I thought might suit (read: afford). Subsequently I was dashing off to open homes, putting in offers and time after time I was pipped at the post or came up short. I thought this house buying malarkey was easy, I had a deposit and there were plenty of homes up for grabs so why wasn’t it working out? It just didn’t compute.
I turned to a friend of mine who had a great track record in property and asked for some tips. Here’s what he told me:
I’m sure you are starting to see where this is heading. Up to this point I had placed no fewer than fourteen offers on properties and lost every single one. Looking back now I clearly see why. I had the basic outline of the home buying process, but I was throwing hail-mary’s – placing offers late in the process across properties in multiple suburbs without having my house in order.
Roughly two weeks after following my friends instructions (to the letter) an agent called me and told me that he had a place coming available, it wasn’t listed yet and would I like to take a look? The minute I set eyes on it I know it was the one. It ticked all my boxes, was in the right position, in the right area, I was first to it and I placed a cash offer on the spot. It was a great deal. I acted with agility because; I was very prepared, had done all my homework, research and knowledge gathering. I won – finally.
Business is exactly the same, and I mean EXACTLY. You can trundle along as a mature business making perfectly acceptable money, prominent in your arena. Great brand, good turn over and culture – but not crushing it. And here’s a tip, putting ‘agile’ into your next business case or proclaiming that you’ve sent some staff on a course and are now an ‘agile’ organisation isn’t going to cut it either. Gaining true agility, the kind that stacks the odds embarrassingly in your favour is hard work. I define it as converting from maturity to mastery. As I demonstrated above there is a distinct difference. I’d placed 14 offers so was familiar with the process as a mature buyer but the additional steps required to master my market made all the difference, allowing me to act with immediacy, agility and confidence. They didn’t stand a chance.
A lot of the time when I start working with an organisation I’m astounded how few fundamentals are in place. Many of the gaps are:
If you are deficient in many of the above but trundling along profitably then you may have a mature business but you are far from demonstrating mastery and are certainly not agile.
Being agile isn’t glamorous. Being agile means having your house in order (all of it) so when you are faced with a hurdle or an opportunity you can act quickly and with confidence. Agility = Mastery and the path requires hard work and humility. Most organisations have all the pieces of the puzzle but have misplaced the instructions.
If you want to be agile and wield power over your competitors bordering on being an unfair advantage then get in touch, I can help. It’s not necessarily a fast process but if you don’t start now that puzzle isn’t ever going to put itself together.