Business Growth & Strategy

The Secrets of Organizational Agility #2: It’s Complicated in Three Dimensions!

Alignment-Attunement-IntegrationAnyone who suggests that agility is simple, about keeping things loose and unstructured, and focusing on cash as king, is wrong!  They are likely to be part of the majority (What Separates the Minority from the Majority?), whereas the minority understands that agility is complicated and it doesn’t happen by accident.  It happens by design in three dimensions:

  • 1st Dimension: Integration (side to side across the breadth of our business)
  • 2nd Dimension: Alignment (top-down and bottom-up through the depth of our business)
  • 3rd Dimension: Attunement (backwards from the future and forwards from the present)

1st Dimension: Integration (side to side across the breadth of our business)

The breadth of any business comprises a number of verticals, most obviously as functional departments (Marketing, Sales, Production, Purchasing, Finance, HR, Quality Assurance, or some other mix relevant to your business).  But often, there are many other kinds of verticals too:  geographical regions; product lines; business units;  new business ventures;  strategic alliances and partnerships; special projects and initiatives.  The list goes on.  The danger is that these become disintegrated parts rather than an integrated whole.  Systems thinking tells us that when we maximize the parts we often sub optimize the whole.  That is certainly the case when it comes to organizational agility.  Just ask any professional basketball, soccer or ice-hockey team.   In his book, “Silo’s, Politics and Turf-Wars”, Patrick Lencioni says:

If there is a place where the blame for silos and politics belongs, it is at the top of an organization.Every departmental silo in any company can ultimately be traced back to the leaders of those departments, who have failed to understand the interdependencies that must exist among the executive team, or who have failed to make those interdependencies clear to the people deeper in their own departments. In most situations, silos rise up not because of what executives are doing purposefully but rather because of what they are failing to do:  provide themselves and their employees with a compelling context for working together”

2nd Dimension: Alignment (top down and bottom up through the depth of our business)

In addition to being integrated, each vertical needs to create alignment of top-down strategy and bottom-up operations. High level strategies and concepts must be translated into low level operations and tactics.  Low level experience and learning must be translated into evolving strategies and concepts.  When remaining integrated at all levels across all verticals, this creates the alignment we need for organizational agility.

3rd Dimension: Attunement (backwards from the future and forwards from the present longitudinally)

With the accelerating speed of business, pace of change and unprecedented turbulence, uncertainty and volatility we face these days, business has become like a dynamic journey on a shifting landscape. As a result, dynamic complexity (The 3 Myths of Organizational Agility) is coming at us thicker and faster all the time.   We must be tuned into the anatomy of dynamic complexity and agile methods to master it, oriented to this 3rd and longitudinal dimension of our journey.  It’s a continuum forwards from the present and backwards from the future.  Our typical education, training and development systems don’t do a good job of giving us the knowledge, skills and talents we need.  We must master new and higher order strengths of journey orientation broadly and deeply throughout our organization.  Our agility depends upon it.

Organizational Agility doesn’t happen by accident, it happens by design! Find out more at

Category : Business Growth & Strategy

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About the Author: Mike Richardson

Mike Richardson is an agility pioneer, dedicated to cracking the code of organizational agility for ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things, making possible tomorrow what seems impossible today with Learn More

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