Dale Carnegie of Orange County | Improving Leadership Effectiveness

The Coronavirus and Organizational Agility

The Coronavirus pandemic has a valuable lesson to teach organizations about the importance of servicing your customers. Customers’ priorities and requirements changed almost overnight. Was your organization prepared to pivot from order taking to become a trusted advisor who could help customers survive, or partner with them to co-create a completely new product line? It has never been more important to be an “agile” organization during these uncertain times.

What is Agility in the context of servicing your customers? The term “agile” began in the technology sector and referred to quickly building software that could be pushed out to customers fast, allowing customers to give feedback to the developers on the software’s development and direction. Agility in a more general business sense refers to “an organization’s ability to gather and act on information, make rapid decisions, and employ change to meet rapidly evolving requirements of customers and the business environment”.1

In order to survive in the future, organizations must change the way they look at their business and service customers. Organizations will have to adopt a culture that listens to customers and then adapts its offerings to partner with customers.

Three of the main areas that will have to evolve to adopt this agile organizational culture survive in the future:

  1. Clear Organizational Purpose. This is different from a Mission statement that defines what the organization does and for whom. The organizational purpose provides the reason or focus for your organization’s existence. People may like the organizational mission, but they connect with and believe in the organizational purpose. When considering growth initiatives, priorities, and metrics this should become the standard to hold any decision up against and ensure alignment and stay on track.
  2. Organizational Resilience. Does your organization have a culture of continuous innovation? Do people embrace change? When organizations create a culture that believes in continuous change and innovation, they become more resilient. The fear of change is replaced with the excitement of improvement. Employees want to stay on the leading edge of innovation. This makes it easy when pivoting to partner with customers evolving requirements.
  3. Collaboration & Communication Alignment. Many businesses suffer from poor communication and conflicting priorities. They are siloed and working without alignment to the bigger picture. Organizations that thrive in the future will need to break down silos, enhance communication, and work together collaboratively to achieve organizational priorities without selfish interests taking priority.

The Coronavirus has changed the landscape of what successful businesses will need to do to flourish. Purpose, resilience, and selfless collaboration will allow organizations to adapt to the rapidly evolving requirements of customers and drive them to the top of their industries.

1 Organizational Agility Research 2019 – Dale Carnegie & Associates.

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