Heidrick & Struggles: Shaping the Agile Organization

Culture has become one of the most important words in C-suites and corporate boardrooms, yet when it comes to shaping an organization’s culture to achieve enduring advantage, many companies fall woefully short. As global organizations navigate the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” they are grappling with the need for urgent, dramatic, and fast-moving changes in strategies for leadership, talent, and organizational performance. Culture is the catalyst for achieving these goals, but it is too often overlooked.

Through a combination of purposeful leadership, broad engagement, and focused sustainability, smart leaders help shape their company’s culture — instead of allowing the culture to shape the company. Creating a healthy, high-performing, and agile organizational culture provides companies with a measurable, lasting source of competitive advantage.

Recognizing the characteristics of agile organizations

Agile companies are optimistic in the face of challenge, never rest on their success, and regularly seek to improve even when they are successful. While this culture is a boon for any business, it is particularly vital for companies seeking to reap the full benefits of investments in digital technologies. Heidrick & Struggles have identified five fundamental characteristics of an agile organization:

Responsiveness to strategic opportunities and shifts.
Agile organizations create an environment of trust and individual empowerment that enables and rewards innovation and risk-taking.

Shorter decision, production, and review cycles.
By streamlining internal processes, companies can move more quickly to pursue opportunities and adapt to changing market conditions.

A focus on individual and organizational growth mind-sets.
The entire company, from the C-suite to the front line, must adopt a mind-set of continual growth and learning.

An emphasis on the voice of the customer.
Creating a customer-centric mind-set helps organizations to identify and respond quickly to consumer choices and behaviors rather than playing catch-up.

Interdisciplinary, collaborative project teams.
By eliminating siloed thinking and fostering collaboration both within teams and across functions, companies are able to build fruitful networks across the enterprise and also extend collaboration outward to communities as well as external stakeholders.

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