Agility, agile organizations, agile lifestyle, agile mindset. Almost daily, we use or hear this term it seems as if our whole world is agile. Agile has developed into a kind of buzzword whose meaning is becoming increasingly vague. Searching for my own definition of agility in daily life I take you on balancing act between its different meanings.
When I first heard about agility, I thought someone was talking about mobility. As an athlete I thought, great, I’m already quite familiar with it. However, it was not clear to my how exactly organizations can be agile. Therefore, I deepened my knowledge through literature and formed my own definition of agility, starting with the distinction between physical and psychological levels in an example…
Focusing on the physical level, I'm probably the most agile player in my team, thanks to my mobility my split just happens. On a psychological level, my teammates would probably mock you for the question. Why? Let’s start, I've been sitting in exactly the same spot for years, I'm always second in our warm up queue, the last one when we enter the court, and if I don't hear the exact same song just before the game starts, then the game's already over for me. Do you recognize yourself?
If you’re laughing right now, then I can assure you, so am I. Until recently, all these rituals were natural and elementary for me. Only when a new player unconsciously disturbed one of my rituals by sitting on exactly my spot and inevitably triggered my anger, I suddenly realized how inappropriate my rage was. This moment together with my newly discovered interest for an agile mindset showed me how unbelievably inflexible I was on a psychological level.
So, I’ve decided to relax my routines a little bit from game to game, not all at once, but one after the other. My sensation, it was unpleasant, my body seemed to refuse. Though honestly, it didn't have any influence on my ability to play. The more I’ve done it, the more pleasant it became. Today, I can be the third in line instead of the second and nothing happens. Some rituals, however, I have also kept because in their way they serve a certain purpose.
My conclusion from the experience, with an agile mindset it is in my opinion not about changing everything immediately. Rather, it is about reflecting on the existing structures and, if necessary, breaking them up. In this respect, dealing with change is of particular importance. New challenges should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat, and so we can combine old routines with new ones.
From these findings I would like to define 3 important principles that have promoted my agile thinking:
Existing routines often shape unconscious actions. These may have been justified at the beginning, but can become forfeited over time.
Also test new possibilities that will help you broaden your horizons.
In order to discover the advantages of something new, you must also actively try to find its advantages.
I would like to conclude with the unification of the two levels. As different as these may be, they have one very important feature in common: only through practice full agility be achieved.
There is no one who can decide overnight that he can do the split, instead one has to stretch every day until he reaches the point where he can do it. The same is probably true for me, even though I’m already capable of doing the split on a physical level, it will still take some stretching exercises until I have a truly agile mindset.
In this sense have fun stretching!
Text: Rahel Frischknecht