Connecting Organizational and Individual Values

By Susan David

My work brings me into conversation with many top executives, and when I ask them about the biggest challenges their organizations face, almost all of them point to issues like unpredictability, shifting regulations, and globalization. Essentially, they are all concerned by our world’s growing complexity.

Complexity demands agility. When success requires the capacity to track countless variables and understand the relationships between them, organizations must be able to maneuver themselves quickly. Executives know this. They often talk to me about agile systems, agile software, and agile business practices. 

What they often fail to recognize, however, is that…

You can’t have agile organizations without agile people.

This goes beyond good hiring. It also requires a shift in corporate culture and a recognition that corporate culture is shaped by the actions of the individual.

If you’re a leader within your company or organization, it’s critical to understand that employees won’t buy into a value just because you claim it as your own or state that it’s important. Announcing a commitment to agility in a memo or on the website isn’t enough to make anyone feel kinship with that value, let alone change their behavior.

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