There can be no doubt about one thing: we are on the brink of transformation, as a society. After the horrifying events in the last few months, there is no “going back” to the way things used to be.

What does this all mean for our organizations?

I believe all of this is pointing to one, major need and deficiency in most of our workplaces: agility. 

Organizational agility, of course, goes way beyond software development. It is an altogether new culture and operating model for organizations. I define organizational agility as the following: 

  • Responsiveness — The ability to change and adapt quickly to rapidly changing market conditions and requirements – reprioritizing initiatives and budgets and aligning quickly on new strategies. 
  • Autonomy — The ability for employees to have the empowerment and the skills to self-organize – to work remotely if needed, to design their own roles and objectives, to be empowered to make decisions without excessive red tape.
  • Inclusion — Fostering a systems perspective by including diverse perspectives and viewpoints. Dissolving siloes and strict hierarchies, allowing for true cross-functional and cross-level collaboration and feedback systems

Most organizations are not agile, if we define agility as above — even when they might think they are, because they are “doing the motions.” True agility is much more than the “what”: daily standups, retrospectives, etc. It is the “how.”

How the organization is designed and structured. How leadership communicates priorities across and aligns the organization. How training and skills are delivered and enforced. How change is managed. How meetings are conducted. How feedback is collected and incorporated. How tools are used. 

Agility Comes Down to Leadership and Culture.

Leaders shape a company’s culture by shaping these “hows”. And if leaders don’t get it right, the business will unfortunately lag behind when it comes to agility. 

And that ultimately means lagging behind in value and ROI: sacrificing employee engagement, operational efficiency, and customer/stakeholder satisfaction. 

Most companies have been “getting by” with the status quo and might continue to “get by” for a little while. But who wants to work for an organization that just gets by?

Customers and employees are changing and demanding more from their leaders and organizations. This trend will continue and become more and more pronounced as we usher in the “new normal” of work and continue to incorporate AI into our workplaces. 

It’s HR’s Time to Shine

The responsibility of HR in driving this organizational agility cannot be understated. Developing the agile operating models, learning strategies, and employee-focused solutions will determine if organizations can thrive in this oncoming future of work. HR’s responsibility of developing a data-driven and agile workplace culture will enable the organization to maximize the benefits of AI across the enterprise and optimize the human-machine collaboration.

This requires HR leaders and teams who are themselves technically savvy, strategic-minded, and holistic in their understanding of the business. Thus, HR must transition itself from the transactional and compliance-driven role it has traditionally played in organizations to one of being a key strategic driver.

Is your workplace ready?