Building Organizational Health, Fitness & Agility in a Covid World

Agility Consulting |


COVID Mania looks like it will be with us for some time – at least through 2021.  

Consequently, all responsible leaders need to get mobilized to examine the health, fitness and agility of your teams to face this on-going reality.  As in our personal lives, we all have to become significantly more vigilant and intentional about our health systems as well as all family members.  If you are like me, you have become much more active in health enhancing practices around general fitness, nutrition and preventative care. 

For the past several months, my wife and I start and end each day with a brisk walk on our neighborhood walking trails.  I have also enjoyed reconnecting with a radio program called The People’s Pharmacy while completing the second half of my walk each day (after my wife heads back home).  We have listened to the wisdom of the People’s Pharmacy duo of Pharmacists Joe and Terry Graedon on and off for many years.  They are a comforting source of fact-based information and professional insight about a variety of topics related to our health and well-being as well as helpful calls to action for the issues challenging us all.

In a somewhat similar manner, my consulting partner, Dr. Nick Horney and I have been applying our academic training and decades of experience in both organizational and leadership behavior to help our clients improve organizational health, fitness, resilience and, of course, their agility since 2001.  Just as with our personal health, organizational health has definite operating systems, processes and practices impacting overall effectiveness and fitness.  From our research and experience, we see organizational agility as the dynamic capacity to sense and respond to marketplace disruption and opportunities better and faster than competition or customer expectations … at all levels within the organization.  

From that research, we know there are definite agility drivers and critical capabilities in leaders, teams and overall enterprise that are very important especially during these hyper-fast, turbulent and uncertain times.  Numerous research studies and articles in 2020 have reinforced and validated the positive differentiation in marketplace performance and success related to organizations that have built high-functioning capabilities in organizational and strategic agility.  Just as with the skillful healthcare providers, it is about creating a strategic orientation for our organizational health.  

Total organizational health must involve creating alignment around the enterprise reason for being, its core value equation and the cultural ethos that binds and engages all team members and stakeholders.  Only then do we have the frame of reference to discern the key question: are we FRAGILE or are we AGILE?  

In that context, take a look at the chart above that outlines an Organizational Health Self-Assessment framework using The Agile Model® drivers and capabilities and consider your rating for either yourself, your leaders or overall organization.  How Agile or Fragile are you to face the kind of on-going disruption, acceleration and turbulence that lies ahead?   Which areas involve the biggest gaps and require the greatest amount of development?

  • Is it with Anticipating Change?   We know that change will be coming at us at an accelerating pace and the nature and viscosity of change has changed … much deeper and thicker.  We must become more systematic about mapping our forces of change along with our sensors for earlier warning signs combined with greater monitoring skills to see trends and patterns in things that matter.  How do we get better at looking around the corner?
  • Is it with Generating Confidence?  We are operating in a general state of fractured confidence in so many aspects of our lives … including our own self-confidence in many cases.  Just as with our immune system, here we may need a booster shot to re-boot our teams by systematically re-connecting them with your reason for being along with aligning and engaging your key stakeholders to restore the energy and purpose that grounds your confidence.
  • Could it be your capacity to Initiate Action isn’t fast enough?  The “speed of play” in today’s world is accelerating into warp levels and passing by many leaders and organizations who cannot keep up.  It may start with fundamental mindset or bias for action.  Might be that decision-making processes and rights along with empowerment for collaboration needs a COVID reset?
  • How well are you in Liberating Thinking? Definitely not to be confused with “liberal” thinking in these hyper-political times ☺.  We all recognize that we have entered a new vortex of uncertainty where we are facing novel and unique dilemmas requiring fresh, innovative thinking (FIT).  Definitely begins with that open mindset not anchored only to solutions from the past but grounded with a customer-centric focus and encouragement of idea diversity from all team members and stakeholders.
  • Have you updated your framework for Evaluating Results? The COVID disruption has upset normal expectations on all fronts and demands a total reset for 2020 and new paradigm for 2021 also.  How do you create realistic yet demanding expectations in this context?  You might need to redefine success measures and pivot from typical annual planning to a more adjustable quarterly goal setting model tied to adjustable standards.  Important to examine your “real time feedback” mechanisms and strive for new, meaningful fact-based measures.

Organizational health, agility and fitness is a dynamic and fluid proposition these days requiring serious, systematic and strategic attention to support your success.  Those who take leadership roles in these areas will not only separate themselves from static competitors but will be creating the kind of organizational climate and operating environment that will attract and engage top talent.

Our book, Focused, Fast & Flexible: Creating Agility Advantage in a VUCA World provides you with a more complete roadmap and guided tour for creating your own transformation.  You might be also be interested in exploring more comprehensive approach like using our Leadership Agility Profile 360º Feedback with your leadership teams to begin to benchmark and calibrate the development path for building greater organizational health, fitness and agility.

We would be pleased to hear your stories and discuss further if interested.

Tom O’Shea

Tom O’Shea, CMC
Principal, Agility Consulting

Volatile, unpredictable, even erratic- these are the times we live in and exactly why Tom O’Shea is considered a trusted advisor and collaborator helping leaders, teams and organizations adapt and thrive by becoming more focused, fast and flexible in an increasingly complex and ambiguous world.

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