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In the first article in this series, we highlighted how critical it is to foster a culture of agility in modern organizations. In this second article, we continue to explore additional ways you can design and cultivate agility amongst your employees.

Tip #4: Design Accountability Structures

Accountability is invariably at the heart of your core values and yet is hard to implement. In the field of systems thinking, "structure influences behavior" ... in fact, "agile structures influence agile behaviors" and we can use simple structures to influence the accountability behaviors we want. For example:
  • At the end of every meeting we score the meeting against our core values, using a poster, flip chart or scoring sheet of something like that, inviting people to comment on outlier scores - why did they score a core-value particularly high or low.
  • During a meeting call out the use of excuses, facilitated by having a numbered poster on the wall, "oh, you mean a number 4?" and reminding people of the alternative language which is closer to the truth.
  • We use the excuses and core-values sheets in our weekly/monthly one-to-ones, maybe each scoring how we thing we each did, with a two-way feedback conversation and coaching on things to do less, things to more, things to do differently, things to start doing and things to stop doing (more/less/modify/start/stop).

More simple things like this. You get the idea.

Tip #5: Write a Fragility Epitaph

You already know what will kill your business. Or at least put it into a near-death-spiral which will be painful to recover from. Or at least cause it to flat line. It goes something like this:
  • A lack of continuous improvement/sustaining innovation.
  • A lack of discontinuous improvement/disruptive innovation.Disorganized chaos and chronic crisis management.
  • Partial triage.
  • Learning from hindsight want we could have learned from foresight.
  • Bad luck by accident because we weren't sufficiently prepared for good luck by design.
  • Bad micro-management and insufficient good micro-management.
  • Not finding the agile-middle.
  • Not shrinking, strengthening and closing our OODA Loop.The VUCA'ness of market and industry shifts we don't see coming.
  • Waterfall mindsets.
  • Wishful thinking.
  • Etc, etc, etc.

Why not write the epitaph now, as a eulogy to the inevitable? That way you can point at it when you see those patterns of behavior playing out. That way you can hold up as a mirror to complacency and promote paranoia. Only the paranoid survive! We should be paranoid about lapsing into fragility.

Tip #6: Institutionalize Everything in 100 Places

Beyond the core values in 100 places, institutionalize all of these ideas in 100 places (OK, 20 or 30!)

Tip #7: Assess Your Conversation-Flow - What's Your Share-Price?

Your cash-flow is driven by your conversation-flow. Where your conversation-flow goes, your will cash flow follow, it's just a matter of time. If you want your cash-flow to be on an upwards trajectory, your conversation-flow will have to go there first with sufficient quantity, quality and cadence. The three core-concepts of agility you have learned help you assess these 3 attributes of your conversation-flow:
  • Quantity - the "Journey Orientation" model (of doing the work of crisis without a crisis) - ask, are we driving a sufficient quantity of conversation flow to do the work of crisis without a crisis? Or do we find ourselves suffering more crises than we should, telling us that the quantity of our conversation-flow is falling short?
  • Quality - the "Finding the Agile Middle" model (of a jet fighter plane) - ask, are we driving a sufficient quality of conversation-flow, to find the agile middle as a whole-brained, integrative thinking flow of conversation? Or do we find ourselves suffering a conversation-flow that leans too far left or right?
  • Cadence - the "Shrink Your Organizational OODA Loop" model (of a jet fighter pilot) - ask, are we driving a sufficiently small, strong and closed loop OODA Loop of conversation-flow to be inside the chaos? Or do we find ourselves with a large, lethargic, somewhat open-loop OODA Loop outside the chaos? Ask yourself at the end of every meeting - what happened to our share-price during this meeting? Huh? Here's what I mean:
    • Imagine you are public company with a share-price and a real-time graphical display monitor in your meeting room.
    • Imagine you have some analysts who follow your stock make buy/hold/sell recommendations based upon a discounted cash-flow analysis of your company.
    • Imagine they have wired your meeting room for sound and are listening in.
    • They will first be doing a discounted conversation-flow analysis of your company!
    • They are assessing the quantity, quality and cadence of your conversation-flow.If they think you have huge VUCA'ness coming at you in the future but your quantity, quality and cadence of conversation-flow is falling short (not least of all riddled with excuses and behaviors contrary to your core-values) , imagine watching your share price going down, realtime!
    • If they think you have huge VUCA'ness coming at you in the future but your quantity, quality and cadence of conversation-flow is up to the job (not least of all in avoiding excuses and behaviors living up to your core-values) imagine watching your share price going up real-time!
    • So, at the end of every meeting, ask what happened to our share-price - flat, mildly up/down, strongly up/down? Ask people to comment on why they said what they said.

Check back to see Tips 8 through 10.

Contributed by Mike Richardson of Agility Consulting


Larry Hart

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