Leadership, culture, and organisational structure are three of the nine factors Accenture has identified as essential to creating an agile organisation―a strategic imperative for the financial services industry. What do these three factors have in common? They’re all fueled by a culture of accountability. And they all fit together.

Accountability drives a leadership style that creates a culture of empowered employees who take personal responsibility for organisational success. But they can’t do that without the right organisational structure. In this blog post, I’ll explain what an agile organisational structure is and how to help your firm achieve it.

The agile organisation: a living business

To be agile, a firm must have a fluid organisational structure that can easily adapt to changing conditions. This type of fluid structure is customer-centric and able to respond quickly and effectively to customer demands. In this sense, an agile organisation becomes a “living business.” The work style is collaborative, team-based, responsive, and outcome-driven. The organisational structure both reflects and supports this work style.

The key to creating this type of structure and style is to determine how your firm could best respond to change and enable decision making by every employee―rather than drawing up a new organisation chart to develop a different hierarchy or documenting detailed processes and procedures. The following techniques can help your firm migrate to a fluid organisational structure that combines speed and adaptability with stability:

  • Envision outcomes first and work backward from those outcomes to determine the best way to achieve them. Defining the customer journey is a helpful exercise for identifying roles and responsibilities.
  • Encourage collaboration between smaller, self-managed multidisciplinary teams. Hierarchies create silos and bottlenecks. Look for ways to flatten the organisation, expand managerial span of control, and focus on the right roles for the right people.
  • Make decisions close to the work. That’s where the greatest knowledge and experience often is and it’s one of the best ways to nurture and encourage accountability.
  • Prioritise contribution over official role. Anyone can be a leader and an achiever in an agile organisation. Expertise can be found anywhere. Empowered employees feel free to share their input toward furthering organisational goals. Job titles should never be a hindrance.

Why accountability matters

In agile organisations, accountability is a sense of personal responsibility felt by every employee in support of a broader organisational vision and objectives. Accountability is foundational to an agile organisation because it enables everyone to be a decision-maker and quickly take action on what’s most important―doing the work that matters, when it matters. By nurturing accountability in your people and creating an environment in which it can flourish, you can help your firm develop the agility it needs to stay competitive.

For more information about agility in financial services, please see Accenture’s reports:

Enterprise Agility in Financial Services: The New Strategic Imperative

Three Waves of Change: The Financial Services Journey to Enterprise Agility

Talking Agility

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