Elements of Agility: Levels of Initiative

🗓️Jul 9, 2006July 9, 2006🏷️ Management
📖 1 minute read

When agility comes up in conversations, the typical topics are methods, techniques, or process, but rarely initiative. Even though initiative, more than other factors, determines if a team can perform at maximum performance. These days an organization cannot be competitive if its people are at levels 1 or 2 on the initiative scale.

Levels of Initiative 1

  1. Wait until told. The lowest level of initiative.
  2. Ask what to do.
  3. Recommend, and then take resulting action.
  4. Act, but advise at once.
  5. Act on own, then routinely report. The highest level of initiative.

Managers often unwittingly kill people's initiatives, because managers make too many decisions that would better be done by others. If you notice that your manager is making a decision that could be handled more effectively by you, then recommend it. You might be surprised that he or she will gladly accept your assistance.

Do you think that your team could cut cycle time and improve quality if the team members acted at higher levels of initiative?


  1. Oncken, Jr., William and Donald L. Wass, "Management Time: Who's Got the Monkey?" Harvard Business Review (November-December 1974).