Melbourne Business School News What you need to know about enterprise agility and why it's so important

What you need to know about enterprise agility and why it's so important

Enterprise agility can be difficult to grasp, but it's worth taking the time to understand as it enables organisations to respond quickly in dynamic environments.

Melbourne Business School Senior Learning Consultant Trina Lewis

"At its heart, enterprise agility is being able to anticipate and respond quickly to changes in the market," says Melbourne Business School Senior Learning Consultant Trina Lewis.

"That takes more than whiteboards, post-it notes and daily stand-ups, which is what often comes to mind when people hear the word 'agile'. The right level of agility and exactly how an organisation achieves it can vary."

"Compared to traditional bureaucracies, which can have trouble responding to disruption, agile organisations thrive because they place customers at the heart of what they do and value experimentation," Ms Lewis says.

"Agile cultures are customer-focused, collaborative and encourage innovation, but senior leaders need to demonstrate a true commitment to these behaviours for it to truly take root."

The first step for those at the top is to be clear about the case for change and be able to explain why agility is important for the organisation.

The level of urgency informs the path to take next, says Ms Lewis. Leaders need to commit to adopting a truly agile mindset – that mindset, anchored with the organisation's core purpose, will sit at the heart of decision-making.

"There's no one-size-fits-all approach," says Ms Lewis. "We cover various international and local case studies on the program that show just how differently organisations can approach the challenge.

"For example, we spent a lot of time looking at the experience of Bankwest and Vicinity Centres, who have both adopted agile ways of working, but in very different ways.

"Bankwest took a transformational approach by restructuring core parts of the organisation to create multi-disciplinary teams over a relatively short period of time. Vicinity, on the other hand, took a more organic approach.

"At Vicinity, the HR team was the first to adopt agile practices, and then create visibility around the benefits. That led other departments to follow suit in ways that worked for them."

What was key to success for both cases was the clarity that senior leaders had about why agility was necessary and how they wanted to enable it.

"Moving towards enterprise-wide agility requires a fully committed effort from leadership," Ms Lewis says.

"Agile ways of working, especially at an enterprise level, requires a significant mindset shift. Leaders need to be clear about the urgency and their commitment to do things differently – they need to lead by doing."

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