Agility is the answer enterprises have found to a changed world and to a changed context of doing business. Society, markets and the competitive landscape have changed to possess a greater degree of contingency – in the phrasing of companies today, this is known as the VUCA World. Agility is an answer that aims for a highly responsive organization. Responsiveness includes speed – specifically decision making speed -, flexibility, an acute awareness of changes outside of the company, the ability to read weak indicators and a high degree of reactivity. The pillars supporting an agile organization are:

  • fitting methods (like design thinking, scrum, working out loud, etc.)
  • a fragmented company with smaller, market-oriented organizational units
  • the building of a support hub containing every function that can be standardized and lean
  • a suitable mindset that supports a culture of respect, listening, contradicting, learning – in short: a non-hierarchical culture

The methods are already given and well-defined, the blueprints for a fragmented organization and a supporting hub are on the table. What is painfully missing is the culture, the agile culture. The hoped-for simple adoption of a start up culture has failed because what is at stake here is a culture change within complex, historically grown organizations, which each have their own strong individual cultures.

Once we take a closer look at the elements of agility, it is staring us in the face: the keystone to developing an agile culture is diversity. We describe the world outside of a company as VUCA; what we perceive at the core of VUCA is its diversity. This diversity entails the interaction of different cultures, different ways of describing the world, in order to understand life, to take decisions, engage in other ways of social bonding and finding purposes in life. We can only be able to be responsive to this situation once we have fully understood it. In order to reach that understanding of diversity, we need to experience it within our company.

What are the advantages of a company that is strong in diversity? Diversity seems to be a competitive differentiator, and it fosters a better financial result compared to less diverse companies. More diverse companies are winning more top talents, are improving their customer orientation and have a deeper understanding of developments on the markets. There are many hard fact reasons for which to start a strong diversity approach. Diversity Management, along with all the criteria for diversity, is therefore not only a political issue: it’s a business issue. Coming back to Agility: the name of the agile mindset is Diversity.

Rüdiger Müngersdorff