Building an Agile Organization

Agile organizations have the processes and structures that enable them to know what is going on both internally and externally, as well as to provide the mechanisms needed to act quickly on that knowledge. Although some view technology as the main way to attain that state, evidence indicates that enterprises can best achieve agility by following basic management principles, using imagination to see an organization in a different light and having a willingness to adjust or change as needed, based on circumstances.

Being agile requires capabilities that are shaped by designing and managing business processes and technology enablers jointly. That can be achieved through the steps in the three distinct yet related areas outlined below.

Learn to sense and respond.

? Establish relationships with customers, suppliers, partners and the public in order to always know what?s happening around you.

? Create structures and processes to understand the information you receive and how to act on it.

? Facilitate learning from various processes based on recurrent sense-and-respond cycles to support the collection, distribution, analysis and interpretation of data associated with business processes and the generation of response alternatives.

? Assess how business technology investments are handled in your firm?s strategic planning and budgeting activities in order to prepare for future spending and to avoid past pitfalls.

Emphasize improvement and innovation.

? Follow best practices, listen to your customers and improve existing capabilities to constantly foster innovation instead of only being opportunistic.

? Focus on creating innovative processes through new technologies, services and strategies; generate ?next? practices; and focus on fine-tuning your current operations.

? Combine improvement and innovation initiatives to constantly reposition yourself regardless of turbulence in the market.

? Examine the initiatives that are currently under way to ensure that they advance your organization and don?t just maintain it.

Distribute and coordinate authority.

? Adopt radically different forms of governance and translate your mission and objectives into information that can be easily interpreted by constituents.

? Replace traditional command and control approaches with mechanisms that facilitate coordination within and across locales, providing individuals, groups and units the autonomy to improvise and act on local knowledge, while orchestrating coherent behavior across the firm.

? Supplement processes with personal accountability and align them with the appropriate supporting business networks and information architecture.

Michael Fillios is the chief solutions officer of BTM Corporation. BTM innovates new business models and enhances financial performance by converging business and technology with its products and intellectual property. ? 2009 BTM Corporation | [email protected]