One of the biggest strategic challenges associations face today is being nimble. Because let’s face it, agility has not historically been one of our community’s strong suits.
We’ve been good at traditions. We’ve been good at saying “We have always done it that way.” We’ve been good at consistency. We’ve been good at “not on my watch.”
I remember seeing one association feel like it was keeping up with the times because they finally allowed women who worked at their member companies to be eligible for their association’s “Lady of the Year” award, rather than only giving it to the supportive wife of a member (sigh).
A big piece of shifting this is culture. We have known about this lack of agility for some time, and many in our community have been actively calling for more nimble organizations, but when you hear the rallying cry but don’t see results, then culture is probably why.
Here are some tips for strengthening your culture’s ability to be nimble:.
Make strategy everyone’s job. The stark separation of strategy and implementation is a problem in most cultures. Nimble organizations recognize the line is actually pretty blurry, which means they expect people at all levels of the organization to make decisions that have strategic implications. That means everyone needs to know (deeply) the strategy.
Design your organization around the needs of the employees. Here’s the harsh truth, managers: Being nimble requires you to give up control, which means “the people” in your organization need to have the resources and authority to get things done.
Shape your cultural building blocks that are related to agility. Your culture is rooted in what Maddie and I call your unique Workplace Genome. There are specific components of that genome that connect to agility — things like how you assign responsibility, how you problem solve and even your approach to quality. You need to know how your culture handles these things if you want to move the needle on being nimble.