Berna Özdemirkan

October 2017 – Brandmap: 

The changing technology, Industry 4.0 and different expectations of business people raised a brand new subject: “Agility”. To keep up with this rapid change, the companies are required to be agile. The dictionary definition is ‘the one acting with ease and speed, the alert, the swift’. So, the corporate agility may be defined as adapting to innovations and changes in the business world with ease and speed. But there is an issue, when we say “Let’s Be Agile”, the companies cannot figure out where to start or whether they are already agile or not.

The biggest handicap here is resulting from the assumption that companies could achieve this process on their own without any assistance. The agility defined by the managers does not exceed the dictionary meaning of this word.  Let’s take it simple first and later explain how a company can achieve its own agility transformation.

How would I start if I want to be agile as an individual? Leaving aside the business world for a while, I am continuing with personal life. Sleeping enough at the times required by my body, exercising, eating healthy, spending quality time with my kids/family, allocating time for my friends and myself, making proactive decisions by following the latest developments would probably help me be faster and more agile. But in a company, where would we start? At this point, we need to establish our starting point by considering that companies are actually composed of individuals or employees. Today, we talk about a lot of abstract concepts like trust, transparency, openness, sensitivity and our current subject: agility. These concepts are emphasized as corporate values frequently, but we rarely look at their reflection on the lives of our employees. And since we don’t look, we don’t understand why these concepts are never fully adopted or embraced.  For a company to maintain those values, every employee should know and understand their exact meaning and finally internalize them. So, it is not realistic to expect all employees and the company as a whole to be agile once the top management decides to be agile.

As a person conducting research on business life for almost two decades, I always say that when you are stuck, when you cannot comprehend the problem, the solution is always in the voice of employees. The biggest secret of successful companies is to listen to their employees regularly without waiting for them to have issues.

Starting off from this act, the solution of everything, it is possible for us to find out how to be agile as a whole. It is required to divide the employees into meaningful groups based on seniority, title etc. to discuss what is understood when one mentions agility and which specific behaviors constitute this concept by going beyond its simple dictionary definition. For instance, please closely examine all the possible comments of employees such as the following: “They keep mentioning ‘agility’, but I cannot understand how can a company that doesn’t have confidence in employees, let them take initiative even regarding the most basic subjects, and requires General Manager signature even for a simple decision, is talking about agility.” Or it would not be wrong to say a company is far away from agility if its employees are not aware of their responsibilities and don’t work to fulfill them in the best possible way, in other words don’t respond to requests on time, don’t attend meetings actively, don’t contribute to the projects.

Every company may have similar behavior indicators regarding agility, however the critical thing is to catch the behaviors unique to your organization and to improve them. And how the comments change or stay the same in different title groups will constitute the basis of your roadmap. After this most important step of identifying how and with which concrete steps agility is described by the employees, you only need to use a research model where you can generate individual agility scores. By forming relevant groups, you can easily get the indicators that you need including the management agility score of your company, the division agility score and the engineering agility score. Since the improvement areas will be generated based on specific subjects and also individually, the entire company may begin agility process once the individuals start to improve their personal behaviors.

It is essential for us to be more agile to exist in today’s world and to maintain our position in tomorrow’s world. If our employees are agile, we, as a company, can be more quick and sharp before our customers, suppliers and all stakeholders. This would reinforce our brand strength. So, everything actually starts with our employees that we name as the nuclear family and influences the entire ecosystem around our company and finally our Brand Strength.