Learning Agility

The Importance of Learning Agility


It today’s culture, things move faster than ever. You can get feedback from customers almost instantaneously, which can be a great benefit, but also a drawback. Internal or external issues can escalate much faster, and being an agile leader makes it easier to address conflicts quickly. Learning agility is all about dealing adequately with the change and helping others develop such a characteristic

The business leader that rejects agility is like a heavy rock in a stream. When it doesn’t move with the current, it simply erodes over time. It stays in one place passively molding to the current, instead of being carried away, or finding its own path. It doesn’t adapt, it simply reacts. Without agile thinking, you’ll be left behind, reacting instead of being proactive.

Agility in business is an important tool–Learning Agility will help you lead and grow your company. It may seem complicated, but in reality, adopting a few habits in the workplace makes agile learning simple.

What is agility in business?

Agility might bring to mind quick sprints or running drills, but that’s not likely to help you grow your business. Applying the concept of agility in your workday can dramatically change the way your business or venture grows. Practicing agility in your business entails:

  • Rapidly adapting to changes, both internal and external, in your company.
  • Quickly responding to customer or consumer demands.
  • While responding and adapting, leading your team in a productive way that doesn’t impact the quality of your product, experience, or business.
  • Continuously adapting to changes to stay competitive.

Any business leader can be agile

Pivoting, adaptation, and change are often synonymous with a start-up culture, but in reality, every business leader should embrace workplace agility. We like to think that agility and stability are opposites, but the two ideas actually go hand in hand.

How? Here’s a helpful analogy from the team at McKinsey. Think of your workplace structure as a smartphone. It’s got a stable operating system with a set of rules, regulations, and hierarchy. But, within the phone is the agile ability to download, reorganize, and delete applications that no longer serve you. Things adapt and ideas evolve, but at the end of the day, there’s still a structure in place that governs the experience while still staying open to new ideas and improvements.

How can I be agile?

Unlike a smartphone, we can’t just download capabilities to make us more agile leaders. Just like a professional athlete, you must train and practice to become more agile. Being able to turn your thinking around on a dime is a skill you can hone.

One way to integrate agility into your practice is by working with a business coach. Like a trainer, they’ll help you run those mental drills and hone in on areas of your business where you can embrace a more agile mindset.

Additionally, bringing these practices into your workplace can foster agility:

  • Regularly implemented cycles of reexamination, including peer and personal review of projects.
  • Reexamining organizational structures, hierarchy, accountability, and feedback loops within the company.
  • Consistently sharing and reworking mid- and long-term goals for the team.
  • Working off of good enough instead of perfect and listening to feedback from customers. Encouraging the rest of your team to innovate rapidly and absorb feedback.

Agility isn’t fancy software or running drills, it’s rapid iterations and quick feedback loops. As you dive into agility on your own, your behavior can set an example for the rest of your team.

Why does it matter?

It’s important for businesses to have established rules and practices, but it’s also equally important for them to embrace change. Change comes from the mentality of the leadership, so as a CEO, founder, or leader in your venture, being adaptable can transform your workplace for the better. It’s not about throwing business standards out the window, but being open to evolving.

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