Agility is a primary cultural foundation of any organization in the 21st century. Even more so now that every sector is heading straight into a journey of digital transformation.
An agile culture is one that is able to adapt to a variety of factors without having to make fundamental changes to its core identity. Organizational agility enables companies to adjust, shift, head into an impending change alone or build partnerships and basically be flexible enough in the face of change. Having a culture that is ready for agility is the perfect way to build this pillar.
Agility is not just a nice-to-have anymore. It has become a necessity.
As a part of an extensive research conducted by Gallup, about 5,500 American and 4,000 European workers were asked a few questions in order to understand their perceptions about how agile are their organizations. Respondents were asked whether A: they believed that they had the right tools and processes required to quickly react to business needs and B: they believed that they themselves had the right mindset in the company to respond rapidly to business requirements.
The research found that those employees who said “YES” to both those questions more often than not also had the eight core cultural characteristics of agility embedded within their organizational culture. Agility covers all attributes ranging from an eagerness to share knowledge to making decisions quickly.
For an organization to become truly agile it must possess the following eight attributes within its culture: cooperation, speed of decision-making, trial tolerance, empowerment, technology adoption, simplicity, knowledge sharing, and a focus on innovation, according to Gallup.
As per the Agility Index, which measures how agile the culture of a company is, about 18 percent of the companies in the US have an agile culture, France is at about 16 percent, followed by Spain at 15 percent and UK and Germany at 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Even though many companies end up boarding the bandwagon of agility and introduce processes such as Scrum Teams and Work Sprints, these cannot exist in a vacuum. There has to be a conducive environment wherein these processes will thrive and yield efficiency results.
In the race to boost workforce productivity by leaps and bounds, many a time, effecting a culture change can take a back seat. Thus, once the eight basics are in order, leaders can embark upon the journey of building a sustainable and scalable culture that welcomes change and is agile enough to adapt and innovate.
Tapping into the individual employee's expertise not only in terms of the subject matter but also in terms of their intuitions about the market, customer needs, and the product can go a long way in building a culture that encourages taking ownership and this feedback can be incorporated in the fast-changing strategy.
Now, as HR leaders, how can you know whether your teams are truly agile?
There are some traits that are common to agile organizations, according to Torben Rick, an international senior executive experienced in change management.
--An agile culture motivates employees to always look for ways to improve even though they’ve become successful by the leaders’ standards.
--Alignment and crystal clear clarity about the company’s mission, vision, and values.
--All employees in an agile workplace look at failure as a chance to learn something new.
--The level of ownership and accountability is exceptionally high in an agile organization.
--Employees and leaders in a truly agile company are unafraid of working cross-functionally and look at it as a way to upskill themselves.
Customer needs are at the center of an agile culture. If you are an HR professional, your customers are the employees at your workplace! It is precisely why as an HR leader you would be at the helm of leading the implementation of an agile culture both within the HR function and among the rest of the teams. When customers’ needs change, so must your product or approach to the services. In an economy wherein market forces transform rapidly and employees have to adapt to newer technologies, learn, unlearn, upskill, and reskill at an unprecedented speed, an agile culture and environment come to the rescue!
An agile culture is not just about embracing newer technology faster. It is about embracing the right technology in an efficient manner in a way that helps the organization achieve its end goal. It is about working with multiple iterations. It is about celebrating successes. It is about holding yourself and your team members accountable. It is about pushing the boundaries of your own comfort zones and challenging yourselves and your departments to do better work.