WHAT IS REQUISITE AGILITY?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED):
- REQUISITE means: ‘Made necessary by particular circumstances’
- AGILITY means: ‘The ability to think and understand quickly and to move quickly and easily’
‘Requisite’ is situational. It is the response required in each unique environment, process and context. In the context of organisations and leadership, Requisite Agility means:
The ability to move as quickly and easily as is made necessary by particular circumstances.
Requisite agility is the ability to change the organisation fast enough to match the rate of change in the business environment so that you can continue to survive and thrive.
Agility is the capacity and capability to put this change into practice; ‘requisite’ means to have enough of this to match the environment.
There isn’t one single situation where agility is needed – other than the existential one of ‘survive and thrive’ – and there isn’t one single approach that will deliver this.
This is one of the most important issues facing organisations today.
In exactly the same way as Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety sets down the framing for managing complexity – Requisite (enough) variety to absorb variety.
RA sets down the framing for managing change, or to use a phrase in vogue at the moment, the ability to make the most of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) as an opportunity.
The death rate of businesses is climbing – even the most successful are going to the wall at an alarming rate and overwhelmingly it is because they do not have RA.
Because it’s so important and has such an impact on organisations, leaders, and societies, we have an ethical duty to not lose sight of the critically important concept enshrined in the term itself.
Our goal is to give the ability to as many people as possible to be able to achieve organisations capable of creating the change it has been commissioned to perform.
There are two fundamental elements to RA
- R – How much agility is necessary? How much do you need?
- A – How much agility have you got? How much can you demonstrate?
By this definition of RA, there cannot be one single solution because the ‘as is made necessary by particular circumstances’ is ‘particular’ to each organisational situation.
The changes that are required within each unit may be completely different depending on their particular situation. It is rare for every single unit across an entire enterprise to have exactly the same RA.
The nature and rate of change of your environment (ΔE) how you work, think and organized determines how agile you are (ΔO). We have ways of assessing what is Requisite.
We have ways of measuring how close to RA you already are based on ΔO ≥ ΔE
This understanding allows for a wide range of approaches for improving the situation. Interventions and applied solutions that best address a deficit or excess agility (fragility).
This understanding allows for a wide range of approaches for improving the situation. Interventions and applied solutions that best address deficit agility or as the case may be, an excess in agility.
The intervention that is the ‘most effective’ is much more than a linear technical and analytical examination of what should happen in an ideal world – it also takes into account the level of capacity, development, and culture of the organisation – the core underlying paradigm or worldview which will decide which interventions are acceptable and feasible.
These are the irreducible laws of organisation dealing with the relationship with the environment.
Requisite Agility, when used with capitals, is referring to a state of an organisation or institution. This is an end state that is aspired. RA exists when the criteria provided above exist.
The daily practice of requisite agility (lower case) as a discipline by practitioners and clients.
AGILE AND AGILITY
The terms agile and agility are used interchangeably. But agile and agility are not the same thing.
Agile is designed for and applied in tactical and procedural forms of work. The Agile Manifesto begins with the words: “better ways of developing software...”
The need for agility (the ability to move quickly and easily) varies across different environments, across different functions and levels. The need for agility is especially unique in executive-level work in the C-Suite.
Across every function such as marketing, finance, risk management, HR, research and development, a different type of agility are required.
For example, in the function of Marketing, the agility required in a market research group gathering data and building insights based on changes in current demand patterns is different from the agility required in new product development that is seeking to disrupt the market and take consumers into places they have never imagined.
The work of RA begins and is always rooted in presence – to get a sense of what’s needed and possible, based on an appreciation of where the client is now and their vision or ambitions for where they would like to be.
Which intervention is ‘most effective’ is not purely a technical/analytical look at what should happen in an ideal world – it takes into account the level of capacity, development, and culture of the organisation – the core underlying paradigm or worldview which will decide which interventions are acceptable and feasible.
RA achieves this by applying the following:
- Scan or sense changes internally and in the environment
- Make sense of this, orientate to what it could mean for the currency (flow) and future of the organisation.
- Make decisions about what to do about this.
- Operational service this decision, pivot the organisation to apply and implement it.
- Balance this capability at operational and strategic levels.
- Rescan and re-sense changes internally and in the environment (rinse and repeat).
Requisite Agility is realised through 5 principles of being trans-disciplinary, adaptive leadership, collaborative intelligence, continuous improvement, and ethical accountability.