xCelerated Blog

So, You Want to Lead an Agile Organization

As an executive you are responsible to take action to help your company survive and grow. You have a strong vision, good people, and clear financial goals. But you haven't achieved the results you desire. You want an agile organization — one that adapts to change rapidly and can create change faster than your competitors can respond. You may be tempted to turn to the latest management fad. But these may or may not work in your organization. You have to apply the right solution at the right time for your situation. And, you can't just demand performance. Execution has to emerge from your company. As Drucker points out, you need to apply thought, knowledge, and cooperation to inspire the right execution to emerge.

You are likely faced with a rapidly changing environment as:

  • technologies evolve,
  • products quickly become obsolete,
  • competitors adapt,
  • substitutes arise from international competitors,
  • outsourcing drives new business models,
  • regulations redirect entire industries,
  • and margins shrink in your industry,

And you have to do it with an increasingly complex organization:

  • Legacy technology has become an obstacle to change
  • People don't respond to incentives as expected
  • When you improve in one area, it causes problems in another area
  • The demographics of your workforce are changing
  • The models of managing through structure and hierarchy are no longer as effective as they once were

What can you do to respond to this rapidly changing environment to respond in an increasingly complex organization? You have to create an understanding of your business that allows your decisions to be Business-Driven, Throughput-Focused, and Human-Powered. If your company is going to thrive you have to find a way to manage and align seven perspectives to develop the agility to manage through these challenges.


  • Make sure the interests of the company are Strategically Aligned among the purposes of each functional area and each employee. You do this by ensuring people have appropriate understanding of the strategic needs of the business. Don't invest in a "peanut butter" fashion where investment is spread around evenly. Invest where it will have the greatest impact on the organization's ability to create value and thrive in the future
  • Establish effective Project Delivery so your organization can rapidly implement strategic change. You organization must be great at constantly adapting to the changing internal and external demands.


  • Establish Operational Excellence where you have a have focused your capabilities on they interact to create value. Embed an organization-wide mindset of waste reduction and improving effectiveness at the strategic and competitive level. Utilize the appropriate process improvement tools in the right places to achieve operational excellence.
  • Make sure you are Technology Enabled in a cost effective way. Technology should not be creating new opportunities not inhibiting your ability to execute your strategy — and it should not be needlessly consuming the scarce resources needed to grow the business.


  • Focus on Talent Management and get the right people, in the right jobs, with the right knowledge, skills, and aptitudes. Customer service, leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation come from your people.
  • Establish Decision Process Optimization where people have the right information and authority to act on critical workflows. Also, establish shared understanding, coordinate efforts, and reliably make and keep commitments. Tremendous performance gains can be achieved through optimizing these interactions within an organization.

Leadership and Governance

  • Through Leadership and Governance create an environment with the will to succeed — where recognizing and responding to internal and external changes emerges from the organization. You can't keep doing business the way you have always done it. You won't be able to recognize and respond fast enough if you have to do it yourself and then dictate the changes.

Your challenge is finding a way to balance the changing needs of your organization with the changing demands in the marketplace. You must not only constantly scan the market for new opportunities and changes in customer demand; you must constantly scan the organization to find the right way to continue to grow the organization. Don't abdicate responsibility to the latest management fads or succumb to just demanding that the organization somehow perform better. Work holistically across the various aspects of your business to develop an agile organization.

By Jay Ghodasara, September 27th, 2013

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