The ultimate measure of agility is performance; more explicitly, performance when things start to change. While this is fantastic if you have an agility-driven culture, it can also be a harsh wake-up call. It is a profoundly disappointing way to find out that your organisation is not agile or to see that you're behind on your KPI's because of unexpected events over the last period.
If change brings about a cascade of activity that energises a team to work outside of the box and get things done, then they are likely to be agile. On the other hand, if change enervates the organisation, and causes activities, KPI's and profits to drop, low agility is most likely a key contributor.
Rather than wait for this outcome, a more intelligent approach is to measure the agility of leaders, teams and employees upfront and compare these measurements against known benchmarks. These insights can then be used to preempt and prepare for change. Fortunately, agility is a measurable set of qualities and the benchmarks are clear.
To proactively measure agility, organisations need to focus on the following four key areas:
Self-aware people are in tune with their strengths and weaknesses. They want to know how they can do things better, and their overall willingness to learn is higher. Higher self-awareness improves our strengths, while lower self-awareness amplifies our weaknesses. Self-awareness is the foundation of agility and, thus, a cornerstone of success.
An individual's level of self-awareness is measured as part of their agility and compared to the working population: whether they are below or above average, and by how much. More self-aware people demonstrate more agility, are easier to work with, and perform better.
Whether considering a team, management, or the organisation as a whole, the self-awareness of a group is benchmarked against similar groups. This benchmarking process answers whether the group is at the expected level and is a crucial indicator of how well they fare against the competition.
Learning Agility is the ability to rapidly develop new effective behaviour based on new experiences. People with higher Learning Agility learn more and faster from new situations than people with lower Learning Agility. Agile people look for new challenges, seek feedback, consider consequences and value input to learn from experiences.
Learning Agility is broken down into the underlying component agilities: Change Agility, People Agility, Results Agility and Mental Agility. The measurement is adjusted up or down based on the level of Self-awareness.
Overall Learning Agility scores give insight into how well someone deals with change compared to their peers, and what their preferred methods of engaging with change are. Are they like everyone else (i.e., generally change-resistant)? Do they excel when things change? Or, will they dig their heels in and drag the team down?
3: Leadership Agility
To build a culture of agility, focus on the behaviours of leadership. To ascertain the overall Leadership Agility, the Learning Agility of the leadership tiers are compared to similar groups.
It is essential to know, for example, if senior management have the expected level of agility. If it is too low, it is unlikely that existing business leadership will lead the organisation ahead of the competition. The same is true for each management echelon.
4: Individual agilities
Each individual's agilities make up their overall Learning Agility, and are a specific set of behaviours that an individual might engage in when dealing with change. When looking for agility, over and above Self-awareness, we measure specific traits in four main domains.
- Change Agility is characterised by a constant curiosity fueled by new, unknown things. Experimentation and new experiences are hallmarks of Change Agility.
- People with higher Mental Agility create new insights when things are complex or unclear, often by analysing things in new ways and by thinking outside the box.
- People Agility is about being open and constructive to people with different backgrounds and opinions, as well as learning and succeeding by taking into account others' insights and ideas.
- The strong desire to be successful and always look for the best way to achieve goals is defined as Results Agility, which combines ambition, self-confidence and remaining calm under pressure.
How to measure Learning Agility
Learning Agility is a holistic measurement derived from personality, motivations and behaviour.
In a selection context, Learning Agility is assessed via a combination of personality and motivations.
- See our Learning Agility Indicator for selection
In a development context, you can use the same information obtained from selection to start the employee’s self-development journey. Progress over time can be assessed by measuring the learning agile behaviours demonstrated by the employee.