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Leading Your Organization to be More Agile: 3 Key Roles for HR
by Nick Horney, Ph.D., Leadership Agility Practice Leader


On November 7, I had the opportunity to deliver a one-hour SHRM Webinar focused on the 3 critical roles that HR can serve in leading its organization to be more agile. I was fortunate to have this webcast sponsored by PSI, our online assessment business partner for the past 10 years. PSI was represented by Dr. Susan Stang who leads the Leadership Services Practice.  The topic and focus of the webcast reflected the current challenges faced by organizations and human resources in a very disruptive business environment which appealed to the 750 participants who joined the presentation and Q&A.  

SHRM Webcast Focus 
The first portion of the webcast addressed the environmental challenges and disruptions, often referred to as VUCA, that businesses are confronted with now and will be in the future. I shared insights on surviving and thriving in this disruptive environment from 16 years of focused research, consulting, coaching and training on the topics of Leadership, Team and Organizational Agility at Agility Consulting. Our experience was organized into the three key roles for HR to serve in helping its organization become more agile.


What is your Kodak Moment? 
By Mike Richardson, Team Agility Practice Leader
 
I was just speaking in Rochester NY, which is the home town of Kodak.  Very fitting that I was talking about Agility and how to avoid a "Kodak Moment", like your average taxi-cab firm is having right now!  I was then in NYC Times Square (where this photo above was shot years ago) using Uber to go everywhere!  Which industry might be Uberized next?  Digital disruption is coming your way soon!

Maybe the most famous digital disruption of all time is Kodak!  We all vaguely know the story of their rise and fall, despite having invented the digital camera in the first place, but I decided I was going to research it a lot more deeply, not least of all for my next book.

Here are a few of the best things I have found so far:
  • The Real Lessons from Kodak's Decline (Willy Shih, MIT Sloan Management Review, 2016)
    • "Eastman Kodak Co. is often cited as an iconic example of a company that failed to grasp the significance of a technological transition that threatened its business. After decades of being an undisputed world leader in film photography, Kodak built the first digital camera back in 1975. But then, the story goes, the company couldn't see the fundamental shift (in its particular case, from analog to digital technology) that was happening right under its nose.  
    • "The big problem with this version of events is that it's wrong."
    • "Kodak management has been criticized for compromising its digital efforts because it wanted to protect film. 
    • "But the criticism is overblown".
    • "Lessons for Managers.  Every situation is different, but the experiences of Kodak suggest some sobering questions for managers in industries undergoing substantial technology-driven change. Among them are:
      • Is our core technology converging to the point of being replaced by a general-purpose technology platform? If so, the company could lose manufacturing scale and early-mover advantages - such as being far down the legacy manufacturing learning curve.
      • Is the technology that underpins our business likely to shift to a digital/modular platform that will lower barriers to entry? If so, commoditization pressure will be inevitable, and the company must prepare to live on much lower margins.
      • Do we have a capital-intensive legacy business? If so, can we develop a strategy for scaling down production volumes that is both capital efficient and keeps production costs from rising excessively? This is key to maximizing cash flow while trying to execute a transition. It will involve using older equipment or repurposing production assets to make alternate products.
      • How does the balance of power in our ecosystem change as technology shifts impact different parts of the value chain differently? Will the interests of partners cause our company to do things that are contrary to its long-term interests? This requires thinking about how ecosystem partners will manage the transition and adjusting strategy accordingly." 
 

By Ben Baran,  Ph.D.,  Agility Analytics Practice Leader

It's not just you; it's not just me. The acronym VUCA is more popular than ever.  

According to Google Trends,   interest in the term is at an all-time high, following a distinct trend upward in the past several years. 

Like many ideas, however, VUCA as a framework for understanding turbulence in one's environment wasn't an overnight sensation. The acronym-which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity-began decades ago with attempts to help develop strategic leaders at the U.S. Army War College.

One of the earliest references to VUCA that I've found is in a 1992 article in the  Journal of Management Development  by Herbert Barber titled, "Developing strategic leadership: The US Army War College experience." In the article, he describes how the U.S. Army War College and The Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences sponsored a conference in February 1991 that brought together both scholars and practitioners to discuss leadership at the top of complex organizations. One of the aspects of strategic leadership upon which participants at the conference focused was the environment, or the context in which strategic leaders must operate. Even in 1991, the environment described by conference participants was one fraught with turbulence, from geopolitical uncertainty to technological advancement. 


Agile Curiosity
By Tom O'Shea, CMC, Organizational Agility Practice Leader


Last week I was in Milwaukee among about 200 pharmaceutical leaders and executives exploring   THE CURIOUS MIND  as a business and learning construct. This focus definitely makes total sense for this great company since their business is centered on all things involving the brain and diseases that impair or distort brain functioning.

Over the past 15 years that we have been dedicated to understanding the dynamics of agility, no lesson is clearer or more powerful than the importance of having the   MINDSET  for why   AGILITY  matters.  Those leaders and organizations that understand the reality that we are operating in a   volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world that will be even faster and more turbulent in the future are clearly different.  They think, speak and act differently than those without that belief system.


Our research into the personality and temperament traits associated with adaptable, resilient and agile human performance led us to identify and confirm five strong differentiators distinguishing the AGILE   personality from the average personality.  These factors are codified in what we call the  Agility Personality Profileā„¢  and include the capacity to focus, maintain and build confidence, operate with positive optimism and active inquisitiveness.  These five traits help shape a workforce that will have superior capabilities to  sense and respond better and faster  to the increasingly complicated, vexing and accelerating pace involved in organizations of the future.  These are also the active ingredients for high performance, agile teams ... for all generations and configurations of teams of the future.
 

Agility Consulting Affiliate Corner: Wally Boehm

Agility for what?  Results, that's the goal!
  
"In dealing with the modern business environment filled with the impacts of a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous (VUCA) world, executives lean on proven frameworks to guide their actions", states Wally Boehm, Agility Affiliate.  His main focus in working with clients has centered in aligning Agile practices with processes already in use by those clients, specifically Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) efforts, which have long been ingrained in their respective organization. Effective integration of Agility with existing business improvement processes can become a game changer in generating results for those clients beyond existing levels.   By combining a variety of newly created CPI tools, which align with the Agility Leadership Assessment process, focused data analysis has allowed for the successful navigation through a VUCA world.   
 
In summary, those organization which seek to deploy or have already deployed a CPI approach within their organizations now have the ability to improve their model with a newly enhanced CPI toolkit which incorporates the proven Agility Leadership Assessment model which integrates the WHAT (CPI) and the HOW (Agile Competency Human Factors) into one consultative continuous process improvement model which will be sustainable in the VUCA business environment.

Creating Agility in a VUCA World!




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NOVEMBBER 2017
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