Change is constant given the VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) we live in today.  Unfortunately, successfully adapting and implementing change is also difficult.  Organizations respond with large-scale strategic initiatives that include M&A, restructuring, downsizing, and other enterprise initiatives.

The pace of these efforts will continue and the stark reality is that 70% of large-scale change initiatives fall short of their intended results.  A major contributing factor is that most organizations fail to ensure individuals at the center of their organization possess the next generation skill, change agility.  Secondly, they fail to equip leaders with the skills to execute change effectively and ensure their teams thrive.  When executives and senior leaders are planning and executing large-scale change, the overall plan must include specific efforts and resources to develop and reward agility at the leader and individual level.

To join the 30% of successful organizations, leaders are needed who can activate agile behaviors to anticipate, embrace, and manage through change.  Agility is defined as the power to move quickly and easily; to remain nimble.  To become agile, it is helpful to define and develop behaviors under the capabilities of “balance, speed, and flexibility.”  Agile leaders accept the strategic rationale behind the change and take action with their teams to build buy-in, reduce resistance, and create alignment.

Because change agility necessitates a mindset shift, organizations must support continued development of the individual and leaders in order to build belief in the need for change.  This can be accomplished by providing specific experiences that directly apply to real world situations in order to develop capabilities as they directly relate to the workplace. These may include on-the-job experiences and leader-led learning activities.

To help with on-the-job learning, the organization may create a change agility playbook which can be organized by capability and include suggested activities where an individual learns by doing, learns from others, enhances skills in formal programs, or engages in other self-study approaches.

Leader-led learning activities can easily be facilitated by any leader without specialized training, with little to no preparation needed. These simple, but intentional team activities follow a consistent and structured format with step-by-step instructions to guide the team through problems or issues.

Working with change agility through an on-the-job and leader-led learning approach fosters a culture of continuous development. Leaders benefit by honing their leadership and change agility skills by teaching others. Individual contributors find themselves more engaged in anticipating change and proposing solutions to anticipated risks and innovative ideas. Teams collectively become better equipped to work together effectively during transition.  Organizations benefit by driving accountability for learning and development throughout the organization and enhancing overall agility capabilities.

WLH Consulting, Inc. (“WLH”) provides robust strategic change execution support to organizations. This begins with defining the change effort and includes cascades to ensure strategic initiative success.  Our learning and development suite of offerings on change agility builds skill and capabilities for the future.  For more information on how WLH Consulting, Inc. can help you implement Change Agility within your organization, please email or call 954-385-0770.

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.

Change Agility