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Business Agility Deep Dive: 
Agility Audit Can Prevent Organizational Narcosis™ 
by Nick Horney, Ph.D., Leadership Agility Practice Leader

Scuba divers know that nitrogen narcosis is a reversible alteration in consciousness producing a state similar to alcohol intoxication in divers at depth. It occurs to some small extent at any depth, but in most cases doesn't become noticeable until deeper diving depths, usually starting around 30 to 40 meters. 

I use this metaphor of "nitrogen narcosis" from my 23-year Navy Special Operations experience to describe the adverse behavioral effects and disruptive organizational impact of   Organizational Narcosis™.  I have worked with organizations exhibiting characteristics of Organizational Narcosis™ that include confusion about decision-making authority, absence of strategic focus, impaired judgment, a sense of invulnerability or even depression when faced with the marketplace turbulence, often described as volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA). 

These are very similar behaviors exhibited by divers experiencing nitrogen narcosis. Due to its perception-altering effects, the onset of nitrogen narcosis may be hard to recognize, its severity is unpredictable, and in diving, the resulting illogical behavior can be fatal. Similarly, the onset of Organizational Narcosis™ may be hard to recognize and can inhibit an organization's ability to survive and thrive in a VUCA environment.  

By Mike Richardson, Team Agility Practice Leader

Most people assume that AGILE methodologies started with the software industry, the creation of The Agile Manifesto by a meeting of software gurus in 2001 and evolution of "Agile Software Development" thereafter (read more:  Waterfall vs Agile/Sprints/Scrum - Pivoting to the future of Agile-Teamwork), using that as support for their argument that AGILE doesn't apply to hardware  companies.

They would be wrong!  Actually it can be attributed back to Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka's 1986 Harvard Business Review's article entitled "The New New Product Development Game" in which they studied hardware companies who were breaking the mold of traditional approaches to product development and moving towards the early incarnations of agile approaches, first using the Rugby analogy of a "Scrum":

"In today's fast-paced, fiercely competitive world of commercial new product development, speed and flexibility are essential. Companies are increasingly realizing that the old, sequential approach to developing new products simply won't get the job done. Instead, companies in Japan and the United States are using a holistic method-as in rugby, the ball gets passed within the team as it moves as a unit up the field. "

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

HELP ... our worlds are dominated with new technology and devices that are trying to control our lives!  Well, at least that is how I feel sometimes ... just ask my daughter Meaghan who helps me with most of my technology related questions and issues. I hope you each have a Meaghan to help you in your challenging technology worlds.

Over the past year, mostly at Meaghan's behest, I finally crossed over from the PC world into a fully MAC ecosystem.  I already had an iPad and an iPhone ... so making the complete transformation to a "seamless" technology world made sense.  In doing so, I had to learn another language and discovered the need to set a whole new lexicon of default settings and "preferences".

As I worked my way through this learning process, largely by trial and error, I would regularly have to search for solutions and would periodically discover new gateways to answers to reduce the frustration associated with learning a new operating system.  It recently dawned on me that this is very much like what many people in organizations today ... especially those entering new employment ecosystems.  Their changes are much more significant than simply moving from PC, Android or Mac operating systems but make no mistake - each organization has it's own operating system.  Some are highly effective and efficient .... but some are like VISTA which had many flaws and kept breaking down at inopportune times.  

Getting Better Does Not Take Genius or Shiny Things
By Ben Baran, Ph.D. , Agility Analytics Practice Leader

"Arriving at meaningful solutions is an inevitably slow and difficult process.  Nonetheless, what I saw was: better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try."
- Atul Gawande, Better, p. 246

Health care in rural India would shock most of us in the United States. As Dr. Atul Gawande describes in Better-his fascinating book about improving performance in health care-many hospitals in rural India are overcrowded and under-resourced. The demands upon their services continuously outstrip their resources. 

They continuously must do more with not just less, but in some cases with nothing at all. They must improvise. They must make use of what is available and do their best.   

Agility Consulting Affiliate Corner: 
Tom Marin

Why did you decide to become an Affiliate of Agility Consulting?
Our firm offers organizational assessment and strategic development services to many different types of organizations. Across all of our client base we identified a strong need to assist senior executives with their strategic leadership issues. These needs encompass both their own development as well as those that work for them so we needed to either develop our own materials or look for a strategic partner who had this speciality. Agility Consulting offered us the deep expertise and the training we were looking for.

Frankly, it was an easy choice to go with Agility because their model allowed us to quickly come up to speed on their best practices and all of their materials are professionally packaged. As a result, we have been able to rapidly progress through the training and certification phases and immediately sell these services. 

We also saw a strong competitive advantage with Agility Consulting because they are a narrow-cast specialty firm that singularly focuses on agility assessment and training. Most competitive firms offer many types of services in an ala carte fashion which was not as attractive to us. We decided it was advantageous to be in the market with one thing that we could do better than anyone else than many things that many others could do just as well.  

Creating Agility in a VUCA World!


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APRIL 2017
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