Understanding agility in the company

Why?

The environmental context of organizations can be characterized today by four major evolutions:
 

 

  • The rise of complexity and in a related way, a loss of meaning ; 
  • The rise of individuality, which requires acknowledgement of an individual’s ability to think and to act, so to be his own judge whether in a position of a consumer on the market or producer in an organization.  
  • The rise of incertitude, which naturally imposes the necessity to anticipate in order to improve our ability to react. Indeed, we believe that anticipating future scenarios will help us to be prepared for them and react quickly when the time comes; 
  • The rise of interdependence, which is related to the principal of sharing the power as much inside the organization as between the players of the economy of a sector for example. This interdependence could be interpreted as a growing cooperation between public and private players. 

These four trends place organizations in front of a new managerial paradigm which is the contrary to everything we have learned since the beginning of a consumer society.

Businesses today need to be more adaptable and more flexible and evolve faster than they did previously.

If businesses from the 60s can be considered as a unique block, hierarchic and centralized , businesses today resembles as a group of small units legally belonging or not to the same business : these different units share things, values, processes, which enables everyone to evolve in the same way.

They are interconnected between each other.  This means that if one senses a change in environment, the signal is directly sent out to the other units. All units can change direction almost instantaneously.

In order to do this the business relies on IT tools for the internal management and for the relations with the customers and the environmental players. This entails rapid action which is the major issue today.

In the public sphere, there is the same movement of decentralization of centres of power and action. The local democracy is being put into place progressively using new reference.

What?

These four movements push the business to adopt seven complementary managerial principles which characterize what is known as agility:

 

  • The ability to anticipate breakdowns in its environment as well as the consequences  of its own decisions and actions,
  • The cooperation, as much internally, in order to find a collective optimum rather than a  maximum by function, as well as external with regards to all the players in its environment thanks to multiple re-negotiable conventions, 
  • Permanent innovation in its customer offer thanks to a « contained costs – value created » mix,
  • A global offer for more competitive products as well as service offers and a personalized relation with each customer,
  • A generalized customer culture in an organization by processes or everyone is everyone else’s customer and vice versa ,
  • A complexity on human scale that aims at favoring the reconfiguration of teams or services,
  • A culture of change making it into an ally rather than an enemy.

How?

The agile business, which adopts these seven principles, needs to propose a global solution, at the price of a standard offer but with a high level of differentiation, including service and information. To succeed in this, it can no longer respond alone. 

The team who will respond is a mixed team, multifunctional internally and externally. The business can thus respond to the request not only by cooperating with experts or subcontractors but also with a competitor or a supplier. The alliance will be created within a team project or a common business and will be regulated by a convention that can be modified as soon as one of the alliance partners needs to.

The agile public organization is based on the same principles : a new culture to change, «customer’s  » concerns, the innovation (in the delivered services and managerial practices), cooperation (between institutions, as well as with the private sector), etc.

The agile business is made up of human sized units which have an agile culture and are oriented towards a clear common objective. It stays close to the customer, develops its ability to listen to the environment and concludes a large number of agreements (convention) with a large number of players around to help respond to the threats that surround it and to the opportunities to continually co-develop new solutions.