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Organisational ability to change - the new executive imperative

‘Ability to swiftly and successfully respond to change has long been recognised as one of the most important traits of any successful organisation. But with the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis, what was once merely ‘important’ has become the single greatest executive leadership challenge of our time.

As New Zealand begins the hard work of acclimatising to the realities of an economically constrained and COVID-concious environment, it's apparent that some organisations were better able to cope with the ups and downs over the last few years and severe challenges encountered over the last four months.


According to McKinsey, companies that best managed the impact of the crisis were those with agile practices more deeply embedded in their enterprise operating model.

While the whole article is well worth a read, there are two main things that are worth considering:

Organisations who had embedded agile into their model reported Operational Outcomes (93%) andEmployee Experience (76%) results that were better, or significantly better than organisations who had not adopted an agile model.

“Executives emphasized that the agile teams have continued their work almost seamlessly after the shock, without substantial setbacks in productivity. In contrast, many non agile teams struggled to transition, reprioritize their work, and be productive...” (McKinsey)

Adoption of agile practices needs to be top-down, with clear structure and governance in place to maintain quality of service and outcomes.

Despite impressions to the contrary, agile (done right) is as regimented and structured as any other management discipline. Success depends on clear leadership and governance from the executive team -as evidenced by the practices of organisations who successfully responded to the crisis:

A structured governance process for the regular review and reset of business priorities, top to bottom, across the full organisation also helped companies to realign and implement their response strategies.

Globally, true resilience in the face of accelerating change requires new approaches. It's why our executive embarked on our Agile Journey two years ago. This video from June 2019, nearly a year into the process is a timely reminder of the importance of the executive in building this resilience into the organisation - both Jolie and Simon articulate it in their own way.

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