Organizational Agility: Agile Instincts and Mindset

Organizational agility is a hot topic and a hot approach today.  However, in many ways, it is a matter of unlearning some past organizational habits and practices!  Could it be that you and I were each created to be naturally agile, but we have merely been trained over time by organizations and society to be more rigid in our approaches?  This article examines this idea and lays out a new proposition for thinking in a more agile manner that is more adapted to today’s realities.

This is the first of a series of four articles on the subject of organizational agility, where we explore key distinctions of agility at the organizational level.  This article, Part 1 in the series, “Agile Instincts and Mindset”, looks at the foundational nature of agile as compared to other approaches that people and organizations adopt.  Part 2, “Team vs Organization Perspective,” looks more closely at the distinct perspectives on agile at different levels within the organization. Part 3, “Adaptability vs Predictability,” considers the management friction between the two forces of adapting and predicting.  Finally, Part 4, “Balancing Planning and Adaptability,” dives deeper into the benefits and shortcomings of planning, where an adaptive approach can help optimize planning effectiveness.  

What parents taught you

Think for a bit about what your parents taught you.  After all, they were the first teachers for most of us. Now experiences will vary, but most parents want the best for their children.  And they want their children to find something to do with purpose and related to inherent skills. But your parents were influenced by the world too, and molded in certain ways…that may not have fully drawn on that idea of finding what your natural talents are…and what you were best suited to do.  What you were taught may have had more to do with necessity and what was available at the time…and you need to pull away from that to adopt a more agile and adaptive mindset.

What school taught you

After your parents, you were indoctrinated to the world by school experiences.  Some argue that school experiences mold us in the wrong way, making us more compliant and submissive, reactionary and less action-oriented.  Others would argue that school opened the world to them… Whatever your experience, school surely was an influence in some way on your life and your thinking.  Think about what you learned…wand what you did not learn. Remember that it was only a starting point and that learning is a lifelong endeavor. Be open to learning new things…and to ‘unlearning’ where necessary – and you will be adopting an important piece of the agile mindset.

What organizations taught you

Organizations are structured to perpetuate themselves.  Systems are in place to ensure that, based upon the best ideas at the time, things would keep moving forward.  However, the ‘best ideas’ you may have learned at that one time may no longer be viable. To be a leader, you need to think outside the box and question that.  You need an agile mindset for that kind of fresh thinking.

How you see the world

Like organizations, you have made decisions at particular points in time.  Many of these decisions fixed, at least for a time, a particular world view in your mind.  Remember always that the world may have changed…and your breadth and perspective of vision may have changed.  Take the time to take a fresh look, to check your assumptions, test your ideas with others, and adjust your world view accordingly.  This will open your mind to the best of agile thinking. 

Do you consider yourself to have an agile mindset?

This Post is Part of the Series: Organizational Agility

Here is a series of four articles that focus on the subject of agility and mindset:

  1. Agile Instincts and Mindset
  2. Team vs Organization Perspective
  3. Adaptability vs Predictability
  4. Balancing Planning and Adaptability