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Re-visiting the “Being of agile”

By: Dr Letitia van der Merwe & Magda Stevens – inavit iQ learning

We said that getting an elephant to dance starts with the elephant thinking she can dance, and then ingraining this into the actual “being” of the elephant. Agile people have a propensity to seek improvements, are more willing to consider information that is at odds with preconceived notions, and are more willing to be different and take risks.  The following defines some of the characteristics of the being of agile people and we’ve discussed these in the previous edition of this magazine:

  • To be inquisitive
  • To be resilient
  • To be able to let go
  • To be willing to embrace the unknown

The doing of agile

Having explored the characteristics of ”being” agile, the question is, what gets in the way of “doing” agile? How do you improve your agility? You commit to doing something differently – the elephant starts to dance.  In the next issues of this magazine we will explore a couple of perspectives of “doing” more agile, namely:

  • Becoming more resilient
  • Develop a systems thinking approach
  • Asking questions
  • The art of letting go

For this particular edition we will focus on becoming more Resilient


Research has shown us that resilience usually consists of three primary categories:

  • Physical well-being
  • Mental well-being
  • Living a purposeful life

All of these categories are interlinked, but none of them can be ignored if long-term resilience is to be developed.

Physical well-being

Those with a good physical well-being simply have more energy to deal with the challenges of modern life. This category is one we often understand and yet give limited attention to. Keys to physical well-being – decide today to pay more attention to your physical well-being.

Mental well-being

It is essential to stay in touch with what is really happening now, instead of limiting ourselves by adhering to beliefs and assumptions from the past that may no longer be relevant. The mental perspective of resilience is based on our attitudes, beliefs and assumptions, rather than knowledge. Keys to mental resilience: Question assumptions, attitudes, and beliefs, and actively manage your thinking consistently.

Living a purposeful life

Having a strong sense of life purpose and aligning your professional world with that purpose creates a strong foundation for well-being. Keys to Purpose: Have a clear life purpose, develop skills in self-management, and appreciate and work with your emotions regularly.

In their article “Building Agility, Resilience and Performance in Turbulent Environments”, the authors emphasised the importance of a systemic approach to building organisational agility: “We are struck by how the agility and resilience literatures focus on individuals, team, and organisations, but rarely two or more of these at the same time. Emphasizing agility-building interventions such as systems thinking or creative problem-solving workshops at an individual or team level may be helpful, but if efforts to build agility across the organization are weak, then individual and team-level efforts ultimately fail.”

In the next section we will focus on the concept of systems thinking – a useful framework for people wanting to make sense of a more complex world. Then we will provide some insight on how to ask more open-ended questions and finally we will conclude by providing a framework for how to let go.