Thirty leaders joined Cirrus for breakfast in London on Thursday 22 March to discuss our new research report, Overcoming the Barriers to Agility.
We were delighted to welcome guests from a wide range of organisations including BT, Diageo, Mandarin Oriental, Marks & Spencer, Network Rail, Nuffield Health, Tate & Lyle and Three. Many fascinating insights were shared over a delicious breakfast at The Ivy Market Grill.
During the past year, Cirrus has carried out research into agility as our CEO Dr Simon Hayward has been working on his second book, The Agile Leader, which will be published by Kogan Page in June. As part of this research, we identified the four main barriers to agility, which we unveiled at the event:
- Risk-averse culture not giving people confidence to act
- A lack of clarity of vision, roles, and expectations
- Customer intimacy not engrained in the organisation
- Collaboration and team work are not seen as important.
Simon opened the discussion by presenting these key research findings. Together with our guests we then explored which areas represented the greatest barriers for them, and which were the areas of greatest strength.
Many interesting points were raised around each of the four barriers, including:
- There is value in ‘balanced decisiveness’ or ‘pace with space’ so that rapid decision-making can happen in a thoughtful way
- Trust is essential in overcoming aversion to risk
- Some organisations feel constrained by bureaucracy and regulation
- Be bold and brave, encourage others to do the same, and avoid blame.
Clarity of vision
- It’s not enough for leaders to have a clear vision – they also need to communicate that vision clearly and consistently
- Purpose creates passion. It’s what gives work meaning
- The behaviour of leaders needs to support their vision. So for example, if frontline colleagues are going to make decisions closer to customers, leaders need to ‘let go’ and devolve decision-making responsibility.
- The value of customer intimacy in driving valuable personal connections is widely recognised
- Organisations increasingly recognise the value of collaborating with customers to boost innovation
- During difficult times, customers appreciate extra care and often repay it with their loyalty.
- Collaboration can flourish when leaders provide a clear purpose and direction and then trust others to co-create and implement solutions
- Collaboration across teams is often more of a challenge than collaboration within teams, but silo-busting is critical to encouraging more agile working
- Global organisations highlighted the challenge of collaborating across different territories when regional markets are moving at different speeds.
We would like to thank all our guests for contributing to a lively, interesting and thought-provoking discussion.
The Overcoming the Barriers to Agility research report will be available online later this month. If you would like to receive a copy, please let us know.