Mark Talmage-Rostron, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Adaptavist
They often say that in times of adversity, it is businesses that adapt quicker than others who will be afforded the Golden Wonka Ticket to survival, whilst those that don’t have the policies and future-proof digital processes in place will quite simply fade into obscurity.
An example of business agility could not be highlighted better than the likes of McLaren who managed to keep their heads when all others were losing theirs. As their supercar manufacturing and F1 development projects lay in tatters on the development floor, an agile mindset meant they could quickly switch to plan B by manufacturing ventilators.
Being able to pivot on the proverbial penny requires an agile mindset that recognises the need for disparate teams to have access to the very latest and greatest automation tools, allowing them to set tasks, collaborate, and innovate at the drop of a hat.
But business agility is not just about having an agile toolset, it also comes down to the mindset of people and that of the organisation they work for. Hamstring your people with too many control measures and you stifle their creativity. Provide them with greater levels of autonomy by sculpting and nurturing an agile mindset and nine times out of ten, the business will grow its productivity and profitability.
In this article, you’ll learn about what an agile mindset is, how to attain it, and the benefits derived from adopting this powerful framework of thinking.
Why is an agile mindset important?
Complexity is increasing in the world that we live in as a result of globalisation, powerful technologies and scale. To thrive in this ever-changing marketplace, agility is becoming super important for businesses to survive and thrive for the following reason. If that business world is stable and predictable, we can easily plan. However, with complexity, more people are finding themselves in unstable, predictable, and volatile environments, making it near enough impossible to plan for the future. This leads to workplace stress, problems with staff retention and unhappy work life balances.
Discovering a new way of thinking
By our early to mid 20’s, psychologists believe that we are hardwired in our way of thinking. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), which started in 1970 in California, and constructivist development psychologists, suggest otherwise.
Einstein said that we can’t solve today’s problems with yesterday’s thinking, so that means we need to develop an agile mindset that allows us to solve problems in a creative and unconventional way. This allows us to see the world differently to others, which in turn, propagates a competitive advantage. You can’t be a sheep and hope to stand out.
How has Adaptavist developed an agile mindset?
Understanding an agile mindset is one thing, developing one is another kettle of fish. This entails bridging the great divide between theory and practice. Do that and you begin to change the environment in which you function, it’s as simple as that. As theory gets turned into practice, Adaptavist is aiding customers in following the same path.
This has entailed deploying three new services namely Social Insight, Dialogue Partnering and Agile Mentoring. Deploying these services internally and working with customers to extrapolate the most value out of them, has allowed Adaptavist to unlock value and develop best practices that have been perfected internally and passed onto customers.
Tap into your social networks
Informal social networks, propagated by team members, are what companies find themselves surrounded by everyday. These are critical to the development of agile mindsets and as such, organisational transformation.
Social networks can be a powerful tool, but tapping into them can be a mystery. Adaptavist’s Social Insight service is the ticket to unearthing team frustrations, understanding the diverse set of views within them, and understanding how things really get done. With this key insight, it becomes so much easier for companies to experiment within that ecosystem and deliver true transformation.
It is important to note before starting on this journey to agility, that this mindset is affected by culture and culture is the sum of the mindset. Tapping into social networks to develop an agile mindset as mentioned above is one area that Adaptavist has been experimenting with. The other is something called ‘Dialogue Partnering’.
Adaptavist has been leading the charge by working with one of its partners to foster an ecosystem of collaboration and more specifically, collaborative questioning that unlocks specific aspirations and hidden commitments.
This has helped the company unlock greater agility because assumptions about the world and how it operates in that world can now be examined and tested. It is where the rubber hits the road as it is here that Adaptavist is finding it easier to experiment to adjust the way that people find their meaning and establish their position in the process.
Taking Dialogue Partnering and the development of that meaningful mindset, then mapping it with social networks so that the people of Adaptavist can work together to adjust the structure of the organisation, has allowed the company to do very powerful things.
Giving people the tools to do the job counts for most of what is required for individuals to be successful. The other half is creating high levels of autonomy for workers that really drives quantifiable results in any organisation. But, how do these organisations ensure that layered on top of this autonomy is a more efficient way of working that will enable them to bring out the best in said workers?
The Agile Mentoring service delivered by Adaptavist is a powerful way to accomplish that. Through a series of agile mentoring workshops, organisations can turn around inefficient ways of working to unlock agility and realise a truly competitive advantage.
This certainly rang true at Adaptavist as the organisation, together with degrees of control and compliance, began to really trust its staff to get the job done.
Control does have a part to play, as an organisation is ultimately measured against its control and compliance measures, especially when it comes to things like GDPR and anti-bribery. If not followed to the letter of the law, flying in the face of these guidelines can have detrimental effects on any global business. That said, implementing these controls will definitely undermine the ability of someone to work autonomously or act on their own volition.
This is proven by the Self Determination Theory (SDT) by Ryan & Deci that states that its propositions focus on how social and cultural factors facilitate or undermine people’s sense of volition and initiative, in addition to their well-being and the quality of their performance. Conditions supporting the individual’s experience of autonomy, competence, and relatedness are argued to foster the most volitional and high quality forms of motivation and engagement for activities, including enhanced performance, persistence, and creativity.
Adaptavist found that in its working environment, everybody tended to tune into the cues for control in the environment, or the cues for autonomy which was perceived as an invitation to work autonomously.
That said, people have a different tendency or weighting when it comes to tuning into control or autonomy. Companies must be cognisant of the fact that the same inbound information can be interpreted differently by two people. One can interpret that communication as an instruction to comply, and the other as an invitation to be autonomous.
Using that information, Adaptavist began to understand that to trigger autonomy requires creating a supportive environment. This opened the floodgates to innovation and open collaboration that when combined has tended to have a massively positive effect on the organisation, how it functions and, most critically, on individual wellbeing.
Interesting to note is that after their involvement in Dialogue Partnering, and in response to a short survey, 100% of people said that they very strongly agreed (4), strongly agreed (3) or agreed (2) that the work Adaptavist did in nurturing new ways of thinking had a positive effect on the sense of wellbeing amongst the sample. Of those 9 people, 8 of them very strongly agreed (1) or strongly agreed (7) that this improvement started early in the process. The other (1) was neutral.
Tech aside, if there is one thing that you take away from this article is that only once an organisation finds the way to establish an Agile Mindset, will it become second nature for it to act in a way that’s in perfect harmony with today’s world.