The Need for Agility

For those who know me I am an avid scuba diver. The last week I took a short trip to the Mexican caves. Absolutely gorgeous!! By my return this weekend, Japan had been hit by one of the largest earthquakes in their modern history, followed by a tsunami and now is facing a potential nuclear disaster, an international war started in Libya and on the business side AT&T announced they will be buying T-mobile bringing the US gsm providers back to one.

That is A LOT of change in just one week. It made me reflect back on this century compared to last. It seems that the theme of the 21st century is CHANGE and at a rapid pace. What does that mean to us personally and to our projects in specific?

It means that we need to be able to adapt ourselves to this change. The buzzword that goes with that is the need to be Agile. According to Merriam-Webster, Agile is “marked by ready ability to move with quick easy grace” and “having a quick resourceful and adaptable character.”

A quick resourceful and adaptable character: evaluating the situation, understanding what is and what is not in your control to change and adapt your thinking and actions to the situation. It is not about giving up on your critical thinking and just going “where the wind blows”.

So what can we do to deal with change we are facing?

Change Perspective – within the coaching world one technique that is used is to take an issue and look at if from different perspectives. As human beings we tend to be stuck in one perspective. I have taught myself (with pain and continuous conscious thought) when faced with change or adversity to force myself in the “what can I learn/ what does this offer me” perspective. This helps me to quickly analyze the situation from an opportunities standpoint and from there to adapt to the change moving forward instead of fighting it.

Reflect – We sometimes get so attached to our opinion, our wants and needs, our project scope or fill in the blank that we are unable to reflect on the situation objectively. At times like that I take a moment to reflect on what got me to this point and evaluate if my emotions are speaking instead of the facts. Maybe my project is a lower priority for the company due to a change in the external environment and even though my ego might be hurt I will have to accept that fact in the best interest for the company. In my personal life, I use reflection by reminding myself when faced with adversity or getting grumpy about something that I am part of the blessed few percent in this world simply based on the fact of where I was born and where I life now. Imagine you were born in Haiti or living in Libya, you would be fighting for your livelihood.

Be flexible – Instead of “don’t worry, be happy” my motto is “don’t worry, be flexible” J  And trust me, those that know me well will tell you I am not a go-with-the-flow person by nature. What it really comes down to is which battles worth fighting and which ones aren’t. Some battles are not worth fighting since change is unavoidable; some are not worth it because the energy to fight them does not weigh up to the benefit of wining the battle. Interestingly enough in general more is gained by adapting.

So in these times faced with rapid change, how is your agility?? Please share your experience.

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