The question many corporate leaders will be asking during this major global pandemic is how can we use this time to improve business agility in order to stay afloat amidst the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

The rapid pace of change in the modern corporate landscape is pushing companies across Australia to evolve outdated processes and company culture standards whilst also finding ways to leverage their staff to implement innovative change effectively.

Culture has always been an important element of workplace cohesion and innovation however the current coronavirus pandemic only highlights the significance of ensuring teams are unified and capable of rolling out strategic initiatives in an agile manner in order to use this disruptive time to improve agile working environments.

Successfully evolving to a more responsive business model involves many components and could include new technology, machine learning and innovative application development, however the fundamental requirement lies in the mindset and behaviours of the people within the organisation that are ultimately responsible for getting the job done.

An ‘agile-first’ business requires change agents to be at the centre of disruption and the absence of willingness to change makes agility very difficult. The human culture element cannot be replaced with technology, which can also be problematic for many organisations, especially when challenged with major disruption such as COVID-19.

Adaptability and flexibility in technology, processes and people become critical for a successful transition to an agile business model amidst major disruption. With the right cultural mindset led by the key influencers and leaders within the business, major upheaval can turn into huge opportunity, it simply comes down to the way teams can work as a cohesive unit that is built on fluidity, innovation and a willingness to collectively change for the better.

There are many elements to consider when reviewing the company culture in an effort to transition toward agility. Considering how the mindset, beliefs and behaviours of the leadership team trickle through the organisation is critical for this transition.

Once you have decided that having an agile culture is critical for your enterprise and its future you may consider performing a ‘culture audit.’ This is a way to measure and review the current culture, identify any gaps, and create a plan to implement change.

There needs to be enough flexibility in the managerial style that creative thinking and new ideas are welcomed and able to be executed for the benefit of improving ways of doing things. Learning is a pathway to create and implement positive change so it’s essential that the organisation is built on innovative thinking all the way down the line. Teams of creative thinkers will help you to make agility possible. Review whether your staff feel free to come up with creative ideas and execute on them, more often than not, staff don’t perceive they have opportunity to innovate alongside their managers.

How do you know if your company culture is built on creative thinking?

Review the ways in which you communicate with your teams, as a matter of urgency. The shift to ‘remote-working’ has risen exponentially in light of COVID-19 and since communication is at the heart of all organisational change, it only becomes more critical with most decisions being made over applications like zoom.

Team members must understand the expectations set on them and how to implement new behaviours, it’s also important to acknowledge that communication goes both ways. Articulating the organisations mission, vision and values starts with leadership but should be disseminated through the entire organisation so that the purpose is well baked in and aligned.

Review the level of recognition your employees notice coming from management, especially when it comes to implementing new ways of doing things. When employees feel their contributions matter, they are more likely to perform better and in a more productive way. As you move to an agile way of operating, it could be useful to consider reviewing the company wide reward system to ensure it encourages the right kind of behaviours that are vital to a culture able to adopt change positively and fluidly.

Cultivating an agile culture has a huge impact on whether enterprises meet their objectives and there are many ways to do this, making shorter term changes to positively leverage this major disruption can impact the longevity of the organisation greatly. Lean into the changes to ensure you build a culture able to create and communicate freely.