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Why Tilt Examines Team Agility (And a Summary of Its Perks)

February 17, 2022 |
Why Tilt Examines Team Agility  (And a Summary of Its Perks)

Anyone can claim to have advanced a particular realm of science, whether it be geology, physics, or psychology.  Yet not everyone making such claims has truly contributed to the collective knowledge of our species in a meaningful manner.  One method for deciphering truth from fiction is fact-checking claims against the literature compiled by scholars over the years.  

Tilt 365 is at the cutting edge of the Professional Training and Coaching sector, and its strengths assessment expertise has aided numerous individuals, teams, and corporations.   Any firm can claim the importance of a construct they work to develop, so it is vital to know what scholars say about the importance (or lack thereof) of a given construct before pumping resources into augmenting it.  For example, if a consulting firm claims that having bright green computers will exponentially increase productivity, it would be wise to see if scientists have confirmed their claim with research before spending copious resources replacing your equipment.

Team Agility Construct Space

Among the constructs valued and honed by Tilt 365 is “team agility,” which has contributing elements such as responsiveness, competency, flexibility, speed, and self-organization (which is preceded by autonomy).  The term “agility” is fairly accessible—just as many psychology terms are—and self-organizing teams are also referred to as empowered teams.  When pondering the space occupied by this construct, we might start by thinking about a gymnast that can skillfully perform a wide range of physical maneuvers.  Or we might think about a food company that had always sold sugary snacks possessing the foresight to develop recipes with less sugar in preparation for upcoming government regulations requiring nutrition labels to divulge how many grams of sugar were added to a given product.

At Tilt 365, it is this second form of agility with which we are most concerned.  Overby and colleagues refer to this as organizational agility.  An agile team, as defined by Tilt 365, is a workgroup that is characterized by a psychologically safe climate where members are able to shift between collaboration, innovation, and execution.  Given this, it is not difficult to understand how vital team agility is for almost any type of company.  Are agile business teams agile physically or mentally?  Most of the time, we are talking about the mental agility of business teams.   

The Intertwined Notion of Strategic Agility

A construct that is related to team agility is strategic agility, and it has been given attention in the scholarly literature.  The analogy earlier of a company investing time and resources into generating new recipes is an example of strategic agility.  If a company in such a position refused to alter its strategy, there would be a good chance of drastically reduced profits as customers became aware of the potential negative health impacts of consuming its food products.  

One set of authors included the words “ability to rediscover or review the organization and organization’s strategy” in their definition of strategic agility.  In the food example, the company’s mission was probably not to create unhealthy meals but instead to provide foods that people enjoyed consuming.  For this company, rediscovering its strategy would mean taking into account that people, of late, are less likely to enjoy consuming foods on a regular basis that they know contain large amounts of added sugar.  If this organization successfully created tasty recipes containing fewer grams of added sugar months ahead of its competitors, that would be months of selling more products than competitors just because the company was agile enough to respond to changing environmental conditions quickly.

Strategic agility can be understood to be an amalgamation of strategic sensitivity, resource fluidity, and leadership unity, and strategic agility can breathe vibrancy into an organization in a manner similar to how cold water refreshes a runner.  If your company has been struggling, it may be wise to reassess (and potentially change) your strategic approach (thus employing strategic agility).   

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Organizational Agility

Based on the findings of one survey, those in upper management are acutely aware of the value of organizational agility, as 90% of senior executives surveyed described it as a crucial consideration.  While senior executives should not be confused with scholars who spend their lives researching and uncovering truths, the extensive experience of these executives should be respected, making their viewpoints worth noting.  It is therefore pretty safe to say that, if given the choice, senior executives would favor leading agile teams as compared to the alternative.  

Other findings highlight how a lot of the responsibility for strengthening organizational agility falls on human resources.  Further, just as it’s generally easier to operate a small sports car than an 18 wheeler, smaller organizations tend to have more agility at their disposal.  An application of this could be dividing up massive organizations or large departments into smaller, more easily managed teams.         

Augmenting Team Agility

Agility at the team level exists in greater amounts when a team can anticipate change, prepare for it, and think collectively, but teams do not become agile overnight.  Instead, it is an attribute of the team that develops over months and years.  Factors including environmental uncertainties and group dynamics lengthen the time it takes for teams to manifest agility.  When leading agile teams and helping them become increasingly agile, it is therefore fruitful to keep these findings in mind.

Enterprise social media (ESM) refers to digital technologies enabling a wide variety of communication and content channels within an organization, and meta-knowledge is a term describing the sort of shared knowledge coworkers have when they each have specialized knowledge in different topics.  ESM enables meta-knowledge which itself has, in turn, been found to increase employee agility.  Furthermore, as digital fluency increases, employee agility also tends to go up.  If one employee has, say, a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree, coworkers might seek that employee’s expertise when a complex legal issue arises.  Thus, the information accessible to that attorney’s coworkers is greater than it would be without that particular team member.  

We can readily grasp the notion that enhanced communication will make employees (and thus the teams to which they belong) more agile since they can more effectively deal with unforeseen complications.  If your organization has been slow to adopt newer communication technologies, it might be prudent to begin the process of upgrading your messaging and content-sharing channels.  Similarly, worker training with an eye towards more advanced digital fluency should also yield agility improvements.

Tilt’s Team Agility Endeavors

For the reasons discussed in this post, agility is one attribute that teams should strive to achieve.  Just like we can take action to lower our fasting blood glucose or to raise HDL cholesterol levels, we can consult research and experts to give us insights about boosting team agility.  Tilt is developing a team agility assessment called the Team Agility Predictor (TAP), and once the TAP is deployed, Tilt 365 experts will be able to use your team’s TAP results to guide your team towards increased agility via live or virtual workshops (which subsequently helps you to establish your unique agile team roles).

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Closing

When dangers abound, people are often instructed to “keep their head on a swivel.”  The business climate today is rife with vulnerabilities and threats to the bottom line.  If teams are agile enough to sidestep the flaming arrows of today’s volatile business landscape and to augment sales by being flexible enough to respond to economic or environmental changes, they will have a drastically improved chance of being profitable in the long term.  How many hazards will Tilt 365’s team agility expertise help you and your teammates dodge in the coming months and years?

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