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What is an agile organisation?

The goal of Applied Futurism is to develop resilient organisations that can survive and thrive in a world of accelerated change.

To be agile, an organisation needs three key characteristics or capabilities: foresight, responsiveness, and flexibility.

Foresight is the ability to recognise threats and opportunities early. For the vast majority of organisations, foresight and horizon-scanning processes have been infrequent and informal. Activities for the occasional corporate away day. They have not been an accepted component of day-to-day management and operations.

This has to change. Not only do leaders need to embed in their annual cycle much more frequent and formal attempts to look beyond the organisation’s walls, but members across the organisation need to be encouraged to watch, consider and share learning from other facets of their lives and adjacent or relevant markets and environments.

Foresight is without value if the learning from it is not acted upon. Responsiveness is about the flow of information through an organisation and the translation of that information into a compelling plan of action.

Again, the planning cycles in most organisations are too long for an accelerated age. And the means used to capture and communicate their output are often unwieldy.

Flexibility has been engineered out of most organisations. They have been built — or more often allowed to evolve — to do what they do, not for the possibility they need to change what they do, frequently. Though few organisations approach real efficiency, it is this notional goal that has defined their shape.

Today, agility is more important. Organisations need to be designed explicitly for regular realignment to new markets, products, services and objectives. Structured in functional blocks that can be more easily broken down and reassembled, with clear data flowing across units and out to management.

The Applied Futurist’s Toolkit is a complete suite of tools for building agile organisations. If you want to find out more about it, drop us a line or download the Applied Futurist’s Manifesto.

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Tom Cheesewright