Agility is not JUST about speed.
Agility: Contrary to popular belief, it’s not JUST about speed.

Agility has been a buzzword for the past few years. Organisations know the importance of being agile. They also understand that organisations or individuals who fail to be agile become obsolete pretty fast. But what is agility referring to exactly?

A common mistake that people often make is to associate agility with speed – doing things faster, multitasking, launching new products and services at a faster rate and many more.

The truth is, speed is just the tip of an iceberg. Let’s explore further what lies beneath the surface instead. In this article, I am also going to share with you some of the lessons that I have learnt about agility in the workplace and tips on how you can become agile too.

#1 Big Picture Thinking

My day at work used to begin and end with lots of fire fighting on ad hoc tasks. The moment I step into the office, I begin tackling whatever is thrown on my plate. I thought that as long as I am working hard every day, solving all the ad hoc and urgent tasks promptly at work, I am contributing to my departmental and organisational goals. But soon I realised that this is just not enough in today’s VUCA environment where everything is changing at such a fast pace.

Being agile is not about tackling the whirlwinds that exist throughout our daily work. It is about (1) taking a step back to look at the big picture and (2) analysing the trends and data around us to have a better understanding of the changing world. This big picture thinking will then allow us to anticipate the future, and reinvent ourselves so that we can respond quickly to market changes.

In summary, agility isn’t to play catch-up, but to stay ahead.

To practice big picture thinking, you may consider doing the following:

  1. Spend at least 60 minutes daily to do some reading and explore what is happening out there.
  2. Ask yourselves:
  • What are the latest trends or data about my industry or career that I must know of?
  • How are the people in my industry/outside of my industry responding to the rapidly changing world? What can I learn from them?
  • How can I apply the insights that I have gained back in the workplace?

#2 Empowered Employees

Agility is also about having empowered employees.

Imagine that you were rushing to work, but suddenly you were delayed by a traffic light that has just turned red. 1…2…3…4…Oops, it is not just one traffic light, but four traffic lights in a row. Do you feel a sense of frustration rising in you? Does this situation sound familiar at work? That is what most people face when they are required to make quick decisions or perform a task but layers of approvals or processes stall them.

Hence, instead of having a rigid business structure, sometimes it would be good to allow some flexibility in the structure whereby employees are empowered to step up and make quick decisions according to the needs of the situation.

Here is a quick guide on how to empower others:

  1. Adopt a facilitative approach toward problem-solving.
  2. Assess the employee/team member’s capabilities and competencies.
  3. Delegate tasks that are within the individual’s capabilities and hold them accountable for it.
  4. Provide positive encouragement and constructive feedback to the individual whenever possible.

#3 Interdepartmental Collaboration

Agility to me is also about interdepartmental collaboration.

Every employee in the organisation is just like a piece of a puzzle. Each of us has our own tasks to work on individually, we hold specific information, but when we come together we complete the puzzle, which drives the organisation to success.

Despite this, I realised that most of the time when we come across a challenge or a problem, we tend to gather ideas and opinions from people within our department only. The question is how often do we collect different perspectives or ideas from people outside of our department?

The ability to embrace change and respond quickly to opportunities relies strongly on the ability of individuals to leverage the company’s resources, especially the wisdom of the group.

However, if we continue working within our teams only, we are creating departmental silos and this would affect the health of the organisation.

To address this gap, we need to start creating more opportunities for interdepartmental collaboration. Examples of things that we do in DJP are:

  1. Scheduling of weekly meetings to keep everyone updated on what is going on in each department.
  2. Creating a monthly newsletter for the company.
  3. Creating short projects whereby employees from different departments are required to work together to complete them.

All in all, agility is not just about, working faster, working harder, but about how can we predict the future and plan ahead in order to achieve success.

If you are curious to explore further the concept behind agility or the strategies to create an agile workforce. Start connecting with us now.