You’ve likely heard the term digital innovation quite a bit these past few years. And this past year in particular we all started to see first hand just what it means. Digital technology has shown that it can help a company evolve or pivot faster than many thought possible. However, some of the changes we experienced are not necessarily sustainable, but worked when faced with a crisis. So how can HR help create an agile organization?
If you’re not sure exactly what agility means in a business sense, it’s the ability to create change that is both sustainable and designed specifically to enable a performance advantage.
According to a recent SHRM article from Pepperdine University Research Professor of Management, Christopher G. Worley, Nike is a good example of an agile organization. And it’s not a secret sauce, but rather lessons learned from successful company operating strategies. This is not to say it is as easy as rinse repeat. Agility requires flexibility, thoughtful orchestration, a culture that embraces change, and a solid foundation of systems and processes. According to Worley, there are four routines of agility as outlined in the table below.
You can’t rely on existing change management models when creating an agile organization.
Worley’s “Engage and Learn Model” addresses the needs of this type of change. It isn’t a traditional model or framework for organizational development leaders to follow, “that implies way too much control over the process.” It requires a radical rethink of how HR operates. It is, “a descriptive model of how agile organizations catalyze, orchestrate and accelerate multiple changes happening simultaneously and continuously.”
The model focuses on four change activities that can happen simultaneously across the organization and may be either tightly or loosely coupled.
- Awareness: Activities associated with staying connected to the environment, stakeholders, business, and people.
- Designing: Activities associated with exploring options and relationships between design and change.
- Tailoring: Activities associated with adapting designs, change processes, and interventions to fit local conditions and culture.
- Monitoring: Activities associated with quickly and regularly inquiring into and assessing the impact, result, or effect of different interventions and changes.
To become agile, HR leaders must adopt and encourage versatile skill sets for their teams. They need to understand the industry they are in, the technologies the company uses, and their customer needs. But it doesn’t stop there. They also need to understand how to continuously align the organization to constant changes.
The model borrows from Galbraith’s Star Model logic, utilizing an organizational development hub that unites five cross-functional, (rather than siloed) areas together. (1) Strategy (including mergers and acquisitions); (2) Sustainability/Corporate Social Responsibility; (3) Design Orchestration; (4) Analytics; and (5) Talent Management. The idea is that this type of design will enable the new competencies required for an agile organization.
According to Worley, “becoming an agile organization is more than implementing the agile methodology and adopting agile teams; it is more than digitalizing processes to achieve higher degrees of efficiency. Becoming agile means implementing the structures, systems and processes that create the ability to make timely, effective, and sustained changes when and where they are necessary, including the requisite competencies for operating such an advanced form of organization.”
If you have questions on building a culture to create an agile organization, send us a note, and one of our HR recruiters in Chicago or Denver will reply accordingly. And for more detail on the five nodes listed above, we highly recommend you read the article.