Organizational Agility

This is another in my series of management tips, but this one can easily be applied to anyone in a large organization.

  1. Know Your Vision: At the start of a project, make sure you can clearly articulate the vision for the project.
  2. Explain Benefits in Their Own Terms: Be able to sell your vision to others and articulate what you need from them. Explain in terms that they care about why helping you will benefit them. This includes your own management chain, which somewhere up the chain needs to include someone senior enough to sponsor your project who can also articulate it to other executives.
  3. Work as a Team: Don’t single out people or organizations. Treat everyone as a team member for this project, which can help avoid the “us versus them” thinking that can happen between organizations.
  4. Keep Track of Contacts: Maintain your list of contacts, how they are involved, and what they have agreed to do. Create a sense of openness by sharing this list of contacts with everyone on the list. It might even help your credibility with others when they see who you are working with.
  5. Share Information: Keep everyone involved (your customer, key stakeholders, the people doing the work, your management, etc.) up to date on the progress and changes in the project. Before sending this information though, think about it in terms of who will be reading it: make it easy to get a quick overview, offer the details that they will care about, and don’t try to mask any problems you may be experiencing, but it’s best to only share those problems that you need their assistance on. If you do need their assistance, a status e-mail is not the way to get it – meet with them.
  6. Don’t Alienate: Organizations usually involve office politics. When explaining your project, and what you need from someone, be aware of any potential political battles that might be happening, and avoid them or if possible, offer your project as a way to help.
  7. Build Allies: Meet one-on-one in person if possible, or at least via e-mail, instant messaging, or web conferencing. For the different organizations you will need to deal with, have at least one ally in that organization. It doesn’t need to be the person who is responsible for delivering something for you, just someone who can help you understand the politics and priorities of that organization. Also, be an ally for these people in return too.