How to Build Operational Agility Without Chaos

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With the business environment constantly evolving, it is critical for a business to be agile and adapt quickly. Agility is the ability to be flexible in responding to change. This flexibility comes with a level of autonomy so people can make decisions without delays.

Operations are governed by processes and rules. An agile operation calls for responsive adaptations to deliver what is needed to the customers, to compete, or to expedite internal commitments. A risk with an agile operation is conflicting decisions. The negative impacts include process deviations, broken rules for making an exception with inconsistent rules created as a result.

When people could make choices without coordination, you end up with chaos. Agility does not imply no discipline. To support operational agility, there are three ways to avoid chaos.Agility does not imply no discipline. Click To Tweet

  1. Clear decision-making process. The need to be flexible is a core element of being agile. However, you need to exercise discipline in the decision-making process. By delegating responsibilities, you assign ownership to specific individuals. These individuals could be a manager, a team leader, or team members themselves.

The key is each decision-maker is clear on what she is responsible. When things fall outside her area of responsibilities, she is quick to identify who she needs to involve. This leads to responsive collaboration.

  1. Responsive collaboration. This is a critical step to quickly assemble people who need to be part of the discussion in determining what the appropriate changes are. As changes often affect others in the end-to-end process, engaging the right people early on ensures there is input for cohesive decisions. On the contrary, isolated decisions might be faster but there are ripple effects that could lead to course correction activities.

With an agile mindset, ideas for adaptation would be tabled and vetted. This facilitates a holistic look at the situation and development of a solution that is best for all involved. It is good to note though time is of essence for the collaboration.

  1. Performance reinforcement. As changes are implemented, there could be refinement along the way. Speed might be slowed. Rework could be required. It is understandable that performance could be less than desirable. Therefore, it is just as crucial to keep up with performance monitoring.

Continue to evaluation performance using the established metrics if they are still valid. Otherwise, develop more pertinent measures to monitor how well the changes are faring. By measuring throughput and quality of work, you have a better sense whether there are issues you need to pay attention to.

Agility is essential to survive and thrive. But it is just as important to observe that adaptations are not made randomly, leading to chaos that impact customers and internal workings of the business. You can build an agile operation that is responsive without chaos.

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