Therese Dickerson


— By Julie Arigo

Our January luncheon speaker, Therese Dickerson, Sr. Vice President, Bank of Hawaii Organizational Development, addressed our membership on the subject of “Building an Agile Organization-Agility and Organizational Health”.  Therese is the first in our state to earn the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) credential from the American Society for Training & Development Certification Institute.  Nationwide, only 478 individuals hold the CPLP certification.  That said, it is no wonder our membership gained so much valuable information on a subject matter that all industries should find relevant.

Therese spoke on the subject of how disrupters can put us out of business and sometimes even being in Hawaii can put us out of business unless we acknowledge the need for agility.  This means understanding how quickly our environment is evolving, knowing how to attract and retain employees due to the war for talent, and keeping up with the rapid changes in competition, demand, technology and regulations.  

She shared the importance of the requirement to focus on organizational health, which means outperforming the competition, engaging employees on a shared vision, and empowering a team by constantly communicating with them.  Besides the bottom line, it is equally as important to think about the people in your organization.  Ensuring the team understands why they are there, what the company is trying to accomplish, and knowing how to execute are all critical components associated with a healthy organization.

BAU vs VUCA.  Working on the “Business as Usual” (BAU) model – a formal structure based on policies and procedures that does not allow for flexibility and innovation – can put a company out of business.  The “new” norm is “VUCA” – knowing the organization’s Vision, Understanding what needs to be done, having Clarity on direction, and the Agility to respond and adapt quickly to the unexpected.

The “New” Agile Paradigm is a shift from organizations running like “machines” – a top down hierarchy that creates silos, linear planning & control that doesn’t allow for deviation vs organizations running like “organisms” - organization empowered to act, procedures allow flexibility and quick mobilization on decisions.

To sum it up, there are 5 trademarks to agile organizations:

  1. “North Star” embodied across the organization – a shared purpose and vision, able to sense and seize opportunities

  2. “Next Generation” enabling technology – evolving technology, architecture, systems & tools

  3. Network of empowered teams

  4. Dynamic people that ignite and model passion

  5. Rapid decisions and learning styles

True agility comes only when all five trademarks are in place and working together.