Agility is the new stability.

You have control or growth, but you can’t have both. Trying to eliminate chaos, stifles growth. ~Craig Groeschel

I’ll admit, I like stability. However, as I’ve learned over the past number or years and especially that last 1.5 years, stability actually comes from my ability to change and adapt.

The adaptability and agility I’m talking about here is not the kind when you are forced to change. We all experienced that in the last 1.5 years. We had no choice. This type of adaptability and agility is a choice, and it’s a strategic one. This is when we are choosing to adapt or change. We are proactively seeking out ways that we need to adapt.

An organization’s culture that is characterized by stability that doesn’t also have characteristics to counterbalance that desire for stability could actually be self-defeating. For example, if stability is part of a culture, a counterbalance would be characteristics like innovation, results-oriented, goal-oriented, ambitious, curious, progressive, etc. If the organization’s other culture descriptors are reinforcing stability like risk averse, regulated, cautious, etc., then I would have a hard time concluding that this culture will actually result in stability, especially over time.

The Counterbalance

McKinsey has researched the counterbalance of stability and agility. This balance is typically more challenging for organizations that have been around for a number of years, or decades. McKinsey reported on this pattern.

“Why do established companies struggle to become more agile? No small part of the difficulty comes from a false trade-off: the assumption by executives that they must choose between much-needed speed and flexibility, on the one hand, and the stability and scale inherent in fixed organizational structures and processes, on the other.”

“A 2015 analysis of McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index showed that companies with both speed and stability have a70 percent chance of being ranked in the top quartile by organizational health. That’s a far higher proportion than McKinsey found among companies focused only on one or the other.”

This isn’t an either/or option. It’s a both/and requirement for organizational health.

The Yin and Yang

What’s your organizational yin to your yang? Is your organization too focused on only one or the other—on only stability or only agility? Are you missing the counterbalance?

Ask a number of random employees what five words they would use to describe your culture. (The actual culture, not what might be stated on your website.) Then, put all of those words into two lists. One list that supports stability and one that supports agility. Are the lists balanced?

I like stability, and because I do, I also crave agility and proactively look for ways to adapt. It’s all part of the yin and yang of leading with bold grace.