The rapid pace of change in the marketplace continues to result in the expressed need for agility at the organizational, team, and individual levels.   Organizations need the ability to anticipate and respond to broader trends and specific challenges within their industries. As priorities change, teams must be able to shift their focus and work collaboratively to solve complex problems. Individuals at the center of all organizations must be change agile as their organization adapts to change. How can someone develop and demonstrate change agility?

Sports metaphors can help clarify what it means to be change agile. Athletes frequently participate in skill building drills to increase their level of balance, speed, and flexibility. When triggered systematically, these capabilities enable them to be agile and ready for competition. Change agility is no different. Change agile individuals demonstrate advanced capabilities in balance, speed, and flexibility as they relate to the workplace.

What does it mean when balance, speed, and flexibility are activated in the midst of organizational change?

  • Balance is the ability to remain steady in the face of organizational change. To activate their balance, employees must first be grounded in the business case and vision for change, as well as the organizational mission. Understanding and embracing these foundational constructs provide individuals with a firm foothold when dealing with uncertainty. Furthermore, being grounded in what needs to be done helps individuals clarify their role and their ability to identify and mitigate potential risks.
  • Speed is how quickly organizations, teams, and individuals react in the face of change. Many organizations are burdened with processes and layers of approval that slow down decision making.   Speed is about individuals and organizations (as a whole) moving faster to gather input, review and analyze evidence, and make decisions (even with imperfect information). Individuals need to possess business acumen to quickly react to marketplace dynamics and possess organizational acumen to navigate internal roadblocks while building alignment. Organizations that empower employees result in individuals who take ownership for doing what is right in a quick and efficient manner.
  • Flexibility refers to one’s willingness to adjust and flex depending on who they are working with, as well as adaptability within their own role. In change agile organizations, employees are open to new ideas, new methods of working, and are willing to experiment. Flexibility also includes leveraging strengths that exist within a team or broader network. Through joint problem solving, out-of-the box solutions emerge. Lastly, individuals adapt their work and communication style to gain alignment and find mutual areas of agreement.

Organizations can empower employees to put change agility into action by practicing three (3) capabilities: balance, speed, and flexibility. All three (3) must be present for organizations to begin their agility transformation.

Please feel free to reach out to us to learn more about activating the three (3) change agility capabilities or for more information on how to create impactful, enduring organizational change.

Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.