Building an agile giant


Transformation of leadership is key to build Business Agility

Agile working spreads around the globe like a virus. The promise of agility is to be able to keep abreast with the ever increasing speed of change. The benefits of small embedded in big. What if you could combine the agility, adaptability, and cohesion of a small team with the power and resources of a giant multinational organization?

Inspiring examples such as Google, Spotify and ING bank demonstrate that it is possible. And they are still learning as well. Inspiring books on the topic by Frederic Laloux (“Reinventing Organisations”, 2014) and more recently by General Stan McChrystal (“Team of Teams”, 2016) guide the way.

Our co–founding partner McKinsey recently held a worldwide online exploration called AgilityHackathon about the topic with 1500 business leaders, academics and consultants participating, hence generating a wealth of valuable insights to successfully make the shift.

Pushing decision making to where the action is, is one of the key ingredients. As general McChrystal writes based on the transformation they made in dealing with terrorism: “The world is changing faster than ever, and the smartest response for those in charge is to give small groups the freedom to experiment while driving everyone to share what they learn across the entire organization”. This allows to make use of the collective consciousness of teams, rather than that of an individual manager. Solutions emerge bottom–up as a consequence of team interaction.

We believe we are moving into the new leadership paradigm, from hierarchy to self–management. “Every time humanity has shifted to a new stage of consciousness in the past, it has invented a whole new way to structure and run organizations, each time bringing in extraordinary breakthroughs in collaboration”, Frederic Laloux writes in his groundbreaking book.

For most leaders this involves a radical rethinking of how they lead. A challenging, exciting transformational personal growth path, which shifts their awareness of what is required of this new kind of leader. Organically run organizations, where leaders are the gardeners.

When our clients are on their way to become agile, we see that it takes expanding consciousness of their leaders to grow beyond their current beliefs on what it previously took them to being a good leader. Often they experience radical mindset shifts and they face their awakening fears when they need to let go of control.

So, in our view, any journey towards Agile, should include an inner journey for leaders to reinvent themselves.

Published by Erik Mandersloot,
Thursday 28 July 2016

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