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Keeping up with innovation: The importance of being agile

The importance of being agile isn’t just for sports

I’ve spent a good amount of time talking about agility as it pertains to the organization, development practices and a whole bunch of different things but I don’t think I’ve talked too much about how important agility is for the individuals you work with and have on your teams. One of the things that has permanently shifted given all the factors that make businesses need to be more agile, is the pace of innovation. It has led to increased changes in organizations and successful organizations have to adapt to the changing market conditions, changing operational environments, and that change is a constant. People are being pushed to reshape how they do their work and how they think about how they do their work. There’s just a major shift in the amount of time that the average person is going to spend reskilling in order to meet the new requirements for their job. By virtue of that I think organizations are already beginning to and will definitely be shifting even more in the future to recruit people who they believe to be agile and can support multiple roles.

There’s no doubt in our organization, that we put a premium on agility. We don’t take the perfect resume for a specific job; we really look for people whose meta-model is flexible and who are going to be able to support changing work environments. For us consulting oriented companies, we have had to have this model for a long time just to stay alive, especially if you aren’t IBM scaled. We really needed to focus on smart people that could solve lots of different problems because every client’s problem is a little bit different. So you almost by virtue of the job that you’re in have got to be a little bit flexible, be able to adapt, and be able to learn some new things quickly. I think organizations as a whole are looking at that and saying we don’t need people that can just crank out more widgets faster, we need people that can crank out tomorrow’s widgets and the widget that is needed the day after that. It’s really about building in some flexibility into their organization and that starts with the components that make your organization, the people. I’m curious what other people think about that. Have they seen that shift in their own workplace? I mean that in the sense that there is an expectation that they’re going to manage change as part of their daily routine or as part of the routine of their teams? Do they see more of a shift or expectation that people are going to be flexible?

I don’t think that nowadays people expect to have the same job tomorrow that they had today. I personally find that to be exciting in the sense that it probably empowers more people to stay in jobs longer if they are constantly switching up what they do. It keeps things exciting, staves off boredom and generally keeps you on your toes. Also if you nurture agility, then when organizational needs change they don’t get rid of the old and fill it with new people who are skilled in the new needs. I don’t think that worked for a lot of organizations because those organizations end up missing some integral things such as organizational culture and loyalty, which I find to be important puzzle pieces of a successful organization. So hopefully as we see this premium put on adaptability and agility as people come into the organization, it will create a working environment where people are able to stay in positions longer. The organization will hopefully expect their employees to adapt and reskill to meet new challenges instead of bringing in people every time new challenges are brought in. This idea is particularly exciting to me as I’m in an organization that does a lot of training but I think it’s also exciting for people that are working, especially in larger organizations, to have the opportunity to learn some new skills and hopefully increase the time that they are considered to be viable within their organizations. By this I mean that when the organizations change a little bit they can assume that they’ll be expected to change with the organization, not that the organization will change and they’ll be left behind. I’d be really curious to hear people’s thoughts on this.

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