Charles Darwin once said that “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”. When Darwin spoke these words, he was not speaking about physical stamina, but rather, the notion that the species that could adapt to changing circumstances would be the one to thrive. The dinosaurs are proof positive of an unwillingness to adapt to change, and where are they now?
As we look at the world of work, there are many things for us to consider. In a survey of 10,000 companies in over 119 countries, the Deloitte 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report states that eighty-five percent of employees around the world are not engaged or are actively disengaged from their jobs. With organizations becoming more innovative, automated, and strategic, a shift is taking place in the workforce that is calling for HR to be more creative in their talent and leadership development strategies.
Words such as upskilling and reskilling, pivoting, and transformation, are coming up more and more as we seek to facilitate the needs of organizations. The fourth industrial revolution has quickly evolved into a digital revolution and we as HR practitioners need to be responsive to these changes in order to survive and thrive.
In order to adapt to these changes and increased demands, HR needs to become more agile. Agility means we need to become faster and leaner in our approach to solving HR issues. Agile was created in the tech space and is used to produce products and services in a smart and lean way that cuts out all of the red tape. It fosters cross-collaboration in teams so that they have everyone and everything that they need to achieve their goals. Teams are usually made up of a Product Owner who understands the needs of the stakeholder and interprets them to the team; a Scrum Master who removes any blockers the team may have to stop or slow their progress in achieving their goals and then you have Software Engineers and Quality Assurance Engineers to bring the product from vision to fruition. The team embarks on sprints which usually last anywhere between 1 – 4 weeks and during that time they must produce a minimum viable product (MVP). It does not have to be perfect but it is a product that can be brought to market and developed over time, with updates. Experimentation, reviewing and prioritization are the key to success here.
This is what Agile looks like
The question comes, can these methodologies be applied to HR, and if so how? The answer is definitely yes and the how starts with our willingness to change our mindset from process-driven to dynamic and innovative. Imagine creating moments that matter to your organization by finding out what the pain points are for employees and management alike, brainstorming on where to get the quick wins as a collective, and then working on the quick wins and developing programmes over time.
In doing this, employees can see the effort you are willing to make to ease their pain, and in turn, they want to work now because they are motivated. Managers are also creating psychological safety for their teams to innovate and giving them a voice, which results in the increase of productivity, which drives profit increases and, makes shareholders happy.
This is not a utopian dream being sold, it is the solution we have waiting for and it is being given to us; all we have to do is reach out and accept it. Agile HR implementation has had great success in many organizations all around the world such as Netflix, Google and Sky to name a few. The willingness to adapt to change creating people-centric enablement in our organizations is fundamental to the success of HR in the future. Deloitte’s report makes it abundantly clear that our very survival depends on it.
In her book Agile People, author Pia Maria Thoren shares her thoughts on what organizations look like, when they adopt Agile Principles, especially from an HR perspective. The future is bright for HR and it is Agile.