Since 2001, tens of thousands of leaders all around the world have been creating workplaces in the spirit of the Agile Manifesto
. These workplaces were initially most evident in software development. But Agile leadership is now spreading to all parts of the organization and across all sectors of the economy, particularly as software itself has become a key driver of business success. Agile leaders are not just tinkering with the management practices that were once successful. They are creating something different — workplaces with a culture of agility and with Agile values, practices, and metrics. It has become essential for managers and executives to be fully engaged in Agile transformations in order to build ideal workplaces that exemplify core Agile values and characteristics, including:
- Operating effectively amid uncertainty, complexity, and rapid change
- Being knowledgeable about Agile values, approaches, and practices
- Surfacing more creative solutions through increased self-awareness, a growth mindset, and engaging others
- Aligning and empowering teams toward delivering more customer value
- Personally integrating feedback and experiments, and adapting their ways
- Taking a collaborative continuous-improvement approach to organizational effectiveness
- Catalyzing change in others and facilitating organizational change
To be sure, many Agile projects have begun in the smallest departments within organizations, spreading quickly and changing those organizations from the bottom to the top. And while Agile is about creating the right team dynamics that allow for collaboration and quick iterations – not just flattening out org charts, to truly drive bottom-line-changing results, Agile must be infused into the culture, starting at the top.
So when executive buy-in occurs, great things can happen.
As the Forbes Insights report notes: “The C-suite plays an integral role in driving adoption of agility across the enterprise: 35% of [executives] view the CEO as responsible for organizational agility, and 87% view C-suite executives as the biggest proponents of organizational agility.”
It’s clear that executives have a significant role to play in establishing Agile values in an organization. The need is the same across the board, the means, however, tends to be unique to the individual leaders and their businesses. As outlined in the report, when it comes to building an Agile enterprise, C-level responsibilities can vary.
At Toyota Connected, executive action team members and leadership found they needed to implement daily meetings devoted to resolving impediments like corporate bureaucracy and hang-ups in financial decision making (these issues are commonplace, especially in newly Agile organizations). And at GE Healthcare, a $19-billion American manufacturer of medical products and technologies, C-level executives realized they had to increase organizational agility by challenging mainstream ideas and actively soliciting thought-provoking solutions.