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Press release: Business Agility 2017 ends on a high note with leaders agreeing: the key to meeting your customers’ needs is enterprise-wide agility.

Leaders, consultants and change enthusiasts from around the world met in New York City in February to discuss: what does it mean for an entire organization to be agile?

The inaugural Business Agility Conference sponsored by ICAgile provided a buffet of speakers from an international class ranging from author and Forbes contributor Steve Denning and renowned agile thought leader Pat Reed of iHoriz.

Surprisingly, only 10 native New Yorkers attended the international conference of 350, demonstrating the global demand for new strategies which utilize agile values, principles and practices to increase business responsiveness.

The conference was positioned as:

Authentic short stories and facilitated deep dives on business agility; focusing on organizational design, market disruption and product innovation, agile outside IT and next-gen leadership.

The sessions consisted of three 20-minute TED-style talks followed by a 30-minute round table discussion facilitated by the speakers.

Key takeaways from notable conference speakers included:

“You won’t see it until you believe it” – Pat Reed
“Agile is about working smarter rather than harder” – Steve Denning

Culture, engagement and organizational change were common themes at the conference with consensus that if organizations care for their customers, they must care for their people too.

Naturally, it flows that the People Operations function must itself transform.

According to Fabiola Eyholzer, one of the biggest mistakes to make when it comes to the People Operations function is to focus on one-size-fits-all programs instead of customized people solutions.

“Employees no longer look for a career, but an experience. To innovate and contribute, they [employees] must be allowed to manage themselves with the necessary autonomy and empowerment (sic). That means one-size-fit all programs (like pre-defined career paths etc.) are no longer adequate. Instead, employees look for experiences at work in the same way they expect them at home.”

Fostering employee experiences extends to the creation of opportunities that encourage continuous learning. Shared learning enables companies to increase their staff quicker and solve problems more efficiently.

“Agile does not distinguish between learning and working: working equals learning and knowledge works are learning workers”, says Fabiola.

With increased teamwork and collaboration the new norm, organizations need new systems to manage performance to lift leader capability to manage both high and poor performance.

Speaking at the event, Jason Hall, Agile Coach from LitheSpeed asserted:

“Most company reward structures are based on hierarchical approval that don’t encourage peer sacrifices when they come into conflict with individual objectives (sic). Agile methods and practices place a heavy emphasis on “team” and less on individual. If we want to reap the benefits of agile across the entire organization, we should align the rest of our organizations’ systems to support.”

Business agility is not just an organization’s ability to change. It is the ability of an organization to fundamentally reshape itself through highly nimble, engaged and resilient talent that continuously innovates to enable competition advantage.

So, what are the top overall challenges to achieving a vision of business agility?

Doug Kirkpatrick, an organizational change consultant, executive coach and author helps us to understand through 10 mistakes to avoid for the agile organization:

  1. Adopting organizational culture hacks without consideration of fundamental principles (putting the what before the why).
  2. Using Industrial Age language to promote Digital Age behavior and thinking.
  3. Clinging to command-and-control authority in an age of request-and-respond.
  4. Failing to develop the language, structure and lifecycle of effective interpersonal work commitments.
  5. Failing to engage in crucial or difficult conversations when required.
  6. Failing to identify the appropriate scope and quantum of individual decision-making authority.
  7. Not appreciating the nexus between emotional intelligence and effective leadership and teamwork.
  8. Ignoring the development needs of people in the workplace.
  9. Promoting management control over individual autonomy.
  10. Failing to identify the kind of organizational culture desired and taking affirmative steps to achieve it.