Article: Building a culture of agility

Learning & Development

Building a culture of agility

Learn how to bring in agility required to keep learning relevant and to transform the organization.
Building a culture of agility

Skills and roles are the two things that people are focusing on these days in the corporate world. What we fail to realize is that skills can be acquired later, and roles are something that does not require our attention. The center of our jobs should be learning, and learning is all about building a culture of agility, adapting to change and having a growth mindset. Like any other establishment, creating a culture of agility also requires a framework that will set a foundation for an agile organization. 

In a masterclass at People Matters L&D conference 2019, Madana Kumar, Vice President & Global Head Learning and Development, UST Global, shared some steps for building an agile learning organization.

V.A.L.U.E. framework

Vision: Deloitte conducted research around two years back and found out that nearly 50% of the people in their organization did not have a learning strategy. The lack of a learning strategy in any organization leads to disorientation. Learning should not mean taking a step back, but integrating knowledge in our day-to-day job will help us stand out. As an individual and also as an organization, we need to have a vision. A vision should not always be counted in numbers. We need to look beyond counting the number of hours we worked for or the number of deals we closed only then can we add value to what we are doing.

Appreciation: As human beings, we are wired to look at what is wrong, but it is crucial to point out the things that are right in others and appreciate them. Appreciation brings about more productivity in the organization. 

Love: Love, in this context, is more of an action than it is an emotion. We all love something. Most of the time, it is either people or power and to maintain a balance between the two is a key. If you do not love what you are doing, you are in the wrong place. 

Uplift: A mother takes her child to a crowded show, and while she is enjoying looking at the dances going on, the fireworks and other amusements, the child is not able to see any of that. The mother starts wondering about the reason the child is not enjoying it. She then bends down to pick up the child, and all that she sees is the legs of other people, their skirts, pants, etc. She then realizes and lifts her child, keeps it on her shoulders and looks at the child’s face lighting up. Upliftment does the same thing with people in an organization. Instead of empathizing with people, we need to uplift them.

Empower: Though servant leadership is an oxymoron, it is what empowerment is all about. Reaching out to people at lower levels and empowering them, motivating them and encouraging them to move upward in the position pyramid is an efficient way to build an agile organization.  

John Maxwell, the leadership guru, says “Leadership is an influence, nothing less, nothing more.” Great leaders like Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi or even Hitler, irrespective of what they have done for their people, have one thing in common and that is, they have influenced the thoughts, behavior and actions of their people. Having a leader with the right mindset is the key ingredient to building an agile organization, and a growth mindset could be established by the four-step process for personal development which is as follows.

Step 1: Think about some personal characteristics that you are good at or things that others have told you that you are good at. These would include nouns such as physical strength, intelligence, good looks, good sense of humour, etc. 

Step 2: In this step, you have to think about how you can relate to others. All the things that you do for others can be included in this step. This would consist of verbs, such as include teaching, counseling, supporting, motivating, etc. 

Step 3: In the third step, you have to think about a sentence that describes an ideal world according to you. When you’re picturing it, assume that you have no constraint and no limitations. You have to imagine your dream of living in a perfect world. 

Step 4: The fourth step is all about combining those first three steps and trying to make a perfect world. Using the personal characteristics, you are good at and relating to people with the help of it to create an ideal world would formulate your mission statement which will enable you to build an agile culture for your organization. 

On the whole, having agility in an organization depends on the way its people think and react to situations so to accomplish your mission you have to make adjustments like creating a North star for your members rather than controlling them. Also, making the right decisions and inverting the pyramid are components that ensure constant learning and thereby growth for an individual as well as an organization.


(This article is based on a Masterclass conducted by Dr. Madana Kumar, Vice President & Global Head Learning and Development, UST Global on ‘Building an Agile Learning Organization’ during People Matters L&D Conference 2019.

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Topics: Learning & Development, #PMLnD

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