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Recently people are talking about how to help your companies survive in this VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) business world. Everyone has its own way and solutions to meet and deal with this quickly changed and uncertain environment but there is not consistent conclusion about which way is better until Dr. Linda Holbeche proposed her the “Agile Organization” concept in 2015 for the organizations to build their innovative, sustainable, and resilient businesses. As almost three years flies, this concept had been implemented in several organizations. Some of them succeeded but some of them failed. Hence; in 2018 January, McKinsey & Company released a research paper which is called “the Five Trademarks of Agile Organizations” to help the leaders and owners of any type of organization lead successful transition to an agile organization via mindset changes. But how can we specify our mindset changes to declare that we are ready and fearless for the coming VUCA within an agile organization? Based on this question, I work with my colleague, Tony Chento specify traits and behavioral expectations and requirements based on these 5 trademarks of agile organization and their respective mindset changes from McKinsey & Company research. They are as follows.

    1. North Star embodied across the organization:
      In the past we were living in the scarce resources environment in which we directly fought with our competitors, sought favors from our suppliers, and earned money from our customers in order to give the maximized values to our stakeholders. But now and future, we need to recognize where such resources are available for us and to create values proactively for all of the stakeholders. Based on this mindset shift, we foresee that people shall be more strategic in their work. They shall be more likely to look at things from a broad perspective and set the long-term goals for themselves and their teams rather than only the short-term ones in order to generate the sustainable values and bring continuously positive impact benefiting for all related stakeholders.
    2. Network of empowered teams:
      In the typical organization, people are more willing to be directed and managed and less likely to think out of box and take initiations. However; in an agile organization, people are more likely to be given clear responsibilities and authority together. In this way, they will be highly engaged, want to care for each other, figure out the best ways and solutions for the team, and deliver their promised results. Hence; for people who would like to perform in the agile organization, they shall be autonomous and prefer to have his or her own approaches and opinions to influence the situations where they are surrounded. Moreover; in their jobs, they shall also demonstrate their capabilities that they can consult and involve others, seek co-operation actively, and always place the group’s and team’s interests and goals above his or her own.
    3. Rapid decision and learning cycles:
      In the past days; in order to achieve the expected results, the directions, detailed action plans, and risks were defined by the most senior and experienced big potatoes in the organization. However; in the agile era, everyone is in the continuously changed environment and no one can concisely expect what the future would be. The best way and solution to deal with and win in the uncertain future is to embrace uncertainty and be open minded to try new things. As a result, people in the agile era shall be able to like changes and to try out new things all the way. Moreover; they shall also demonstrate that they prefer variety to regularity. Besides; in the rapidly changing and uncertain time, people should be able to make decisions and draw conclusions quickly and firmly even though they are only provided with insufficient data and information.
    4. Dynamic people model that ignites passion:
      In most organizations nowadays, each leader needs to specifically assign clearly defined work to their direct reports and monitor the progress of each work closely to ensure that the direct reports’ jobs could be completed based on the leader’s expectation and desire. Nevertheless; in an agile organization, effective leaders are able to empower their direct reports to demonstrate their potentials and performances and trust them to work and deliver results under the company’s vision, mission, and purpose route. Consequently; as for people successfully working in the agile era, they should be likely to achieve results and possess motivation to be competitive and to stand out from the crowd. Moreover; for leaders in agile organizations, they must demonstrate their capabilities in inspiring others, including their direct reports, colleagues, and external stakeholders etc. Furthermore, they shall be able to inspire enthusiasm from others for their assigned tasks and for companies and organizations they are working with.
    5. Next-generation enabling technology:
      In the past, technology is only a supporting tool help you and your organization to solve one specific issue and problem which had been already defined and discussed. However; in an agile organization, technology is not only a tool helping you solving some operational problem but can also take an integrated role and provide you and your organization with the unlimited and unimagined values and benefits to meet all internal and external stakeholders’ demands, such as IoT (internet of things), AI (artificial intelligence), and machine learning, etc. Therefore; as people living and working in an agile era and organization, you should be able to believe everything is possible and arm yourself with most advanced technologies to bring your working efficiency to the next level. You should be willing to be creative in your work and prefer generating new ideas and thinking of original ways of seeing same or different things.

With more and more uncertainties, changes, and ambiguities happening and coming nowadays, we foresee that more and more organizations must become more agile. On top of requirements enforced on the organizations, we also believe that people living and working nowadays and in the coming future shall also possess appropriate mindsets and behavioral traits that we mention in the above 5 trademarks in order to be more agile to face and manage happening and coming uncertainties and changes successfully.

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