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Strategic Yet Agile: Leading with Innovation

By Alicia M. Morgan
April 17, 2024

As I gear up for IIL’s #AgileCon2024 presentation, the theme “Scaling for the Future” ignites a sense of enthusiasm. My leadership journey across various sectors, including for-profit entities, non-profits, startup consulting, and workforce readiness initiatives, highlights the importance of innovation. The project and program leadership teams I have been part of, which demonstrate best-in-class performance, are those who are not afraid to take calculated risks to evolve into world-class organizations.

In today’s business climate, leaders encounter a challenge: how to drive innovation while maintaining a forward-thinking vision. Flexibility and adaptability should be part of organizational strategies and meet long-term objectives. Strategic agility enables organizations to pivot swiftly in response to market dynamics and emerging opportunities.

Agility entails more than mere flexibility; it encompasses adaptability, responsiveness, and a readiness to embrace change. It fosters an environment where innovation becomes ingrained in the daily routine. While agile metrics such as velocity, throughput, and cycle time serve as valuable yardsticks for measuring progress and performance, it is imperative not to fixate solely on these metrics. Innovation should not be a secondary concern while teams strive to meet predefined metrics.

In hybrid and remote work arrangements, fostering continuous transformation is imperative. While some organizations may harbor reservations about the efficacy of remote work in driving profitability, it is essential to recognize that innovation and collaboration often thrive in remote or hybrid settings. Effective engagement in virtual environments requires leveraging interactive technology and articulating clear success metrics. As a leader, setting lofty performance standards and motivating your team to pursue excellence are paramount. It fosters a sense of collective ownership and responsibility, leading to better collaboration, enhanced creativity, and better outcomes.

So, let us pose the pivotal question: What initiatives should we embark upon? What practices should we discard? What strategies should we perpetuate? These inquiries should not be the sole perspective of the leader but rather the product of collaborative deliberation within the team. When a team collectively shapes its trajectory, it forms stronger bonds and achieves higher success.

Pursuing strategic agility demands an understanding of both leading and lagging indicators. Leading indicators include customer feedback, employee engagement, market trends, and future developments. Lagging indicators offer retrospective insights into performance metrics like profits, revenue, and customer retention. A holistic grasp of these indicators unveils an organization’s commitment to fostering innovation.

Consider the narrative your leadership style creates. You have two options. One is adhering to the “Everyday” routine, where things remain constant and unchangeable. The other is adopting the “But then one-day” mindset, where a single instance ignites innovation and a readiness for change. This decision is crucial for leaders: either maintain the status quo or embrace disruptive, innovative ideas. By reflecting on this, you can assess your openness to experimenting with new strategies, adapting to obstacles, and steering your team toward growth.

If you are intrigued by the prospect of leading with innovation, join me for my presentation at #AgileCon2024. This decision is pivotal for a leader to determine whether you are content with the status quo or to disrupt and embrace innovation.

Alicia M. Morgan, PMP®, is a high-impact leader with a diverse background in the for-profit, nonprofit, and education sectors. She has mastered the art of navigating complexity, drawing from her experience in Aerospace and Industrial Engineering. Alicia holds certifications in PMP and Agile Metrics and is known for her flexible strategies for project success. As an award-winning consultant, TEDx speaker, and industry thought leader, her work is in various business publications. Attendees of her virtual session will leave feeling empowered and ready to act in scaling for the future through business agility and outcomes.

Alicia is presenting at this year’s #AgileCon2024! Register today.

Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.

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