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Complexity and Chaos: Leading for Agility

Uncertainty brings both opportunity and challenge for leaders. How can leaders cut through confusion and enable real collaboration and innovation at pace? What does it take to inspire AGILITY? The topic of Agility is everywhere right now, but what does Agility mean for Leaders? At Sheppard Moscow we clearly differentiate between the mindsets and behaviours of the type of leadership that creates truly Agile Organisations, as opposed to the popular Agile Methodology that is transforming innovation and customer responsiveness in many businesses.

Agile has been a great cross-over success, as businesses have seen the merits of what started in software development applied to transform business processes and systems, enabling enhanced decision-making and innovation for customers. It is clear organisational culture is the critical enabler to implementing Agile as a process and innovation revolution. Transforming the nature of leadership and management in the business is essential for Agile to be implemented at all – not just effectively. And for those businesses for whom Agility is less about a methodology and more about the outcomes of pace, flexibility and responsiveness, then Leading for Agility becomes a crucial capability.

Leading For Agility
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SO HOW DO AGILE LEADERS RESPOND?

During our two Conversation Series, held in Dublin and London, the following  provided a basis for conversation...

  • What kind of ‘agility’ is needed in your organisation?

  • What has helped you develop your leadership agility?

... from the resulting conversations, plenary and table dialogue, we have integrated key themes to emerge...


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Agile - Responding to a rapidly changing world

We live in a VUCA world – with accelerating change and uncertainty caused by digitisation, globalisation, population growth and climate change, creating both opportunities and threats.

This Means...

Businesses Need To Be Agile.

  • Able to respond quickly to seize opportunities and tackle emerging challenges – with a focus on achieving their Purpose

Developing An Agile Culture.

  • Appreciating core values but being responsive; open to doing things differently, with greater collaboration and pace

Leadership Throughout The Organisation That  Builds A Climate For Agility.

  • Holding the strategic challenge, generating relationships and trust, connecting and enabling, taking decisions and staying open to learning

 

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What emerged from our discussions was:

Reach out to learn more

Developing BUSINESS AGILITY requires:

Clarity of Purpose – because this provides the North Star to navigate through the turbulence of the current business world.  What are we in service of…..?    This Purpose needs to be framed in terms of what it means for all key stakeholders – both within and outside of the business/organisation.

In responding to the environment the business needs to respond to some natural tensions or polarities e.g.:

  • Pace v Perfection

  • Consistency v Unknown

  • Stability v Innovation

  • Need for structure v Need to adapt

  • Inclusion in decisions v Speed to decide and act

  • Deliver now v Change for the Future

How these play out will vary by industry and the nature of the business e.g. the risk impact of innovations and the extent of regulation.

An AGILE CULTURE is characterised by:

  • Convene – Develop – Deliver – how best to connect people, develop a way forward and make it happen
  • Innovation – trying new things; acting through uncertainty; making mistakes and learning from them rapidly
  • Collaboration – both within the business and between key stakeholders; finding new patterns of connection
  • inclusion – drawing on all of the talents available; seeking differing views and stories; and listening to people
  • Outside Focus – staying aware of opportunities, threats and possibilities emerging in the market and beyond

AGILE LEADERSHIP Involves:

The capacity to connect people to make things happen in service of a shared purpose in the context of rapid change and uncertainty. 

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It Is About Collective Leadership – Not Just Individual Capabilities

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Scenes from the Conversation Series "Leading for Agility"


London, November 2019
Client Speakers:
Sally Nelson, Chief People Officer, Fidelity International 
Piers Ricketts, Chief Executive, Eastern Academic Health Sciences Network

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Dublin, June 2019
Client Speakers:
Dr. Martin Fellenz, Associate Professor in Organisational Behaviour, Trinity College
Sharon Buckley, Commercial Director, Musgrave Group

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