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Why Your Organization Should Become Agile

Ben Heller - Sep 06 2019
Published in: Mobility

The following are highlights from an article that will appear in its entirety in the October 2019 issue of Mobility magazine. 

Businesses are changing faster than ever before. Chances are, your company is in a transformational period right now. For businesses to survive and thrive, they need to adapt and innovate fast. This presents challenges that traditional human resource organizations aren’t optimized for. Enter Agile.

Agile is a project management methodology and value system that puts people above plans in order to increase innovation, speed, and ROI. Agile was established by a team of Adobe developers to create a better approach to building software.

The ability to innovate faster with fewer resources is so important today that organizations are moving away from traditional HR methodologies and implementing agile HR practices. To enable rapid innovation, it’s important to empower and build amazing teams.

Rather than looking at employees as resources who perform consistent functions while reporting directly to one person, you increase engagement, innovation, and speed if individuals work in cross-functional teams that adapt to the needs of the organization.

In an agile HR environment, your employees become a network of project-based resources who change roles to solve the most important challenges of the business. The organization crafts teams in which employees join tribes and recruit other members as necessary. The team learns together, connects frequently to drive projects forward, and often will evaluate and reward each other. Feedback is fast. Employees are consistently talking with your customers and stakeholders to adjust and solve challenges. That continuous feedback helps the company innovate faster and discover the best solutions for you and your clients.

Unfortunately, an agile environment is misaligned with some traditional HR practices such as annual performance reviews and standard yearly compensation increases. As a result, the HR organization is changing. Figuring out how to make teams work more effectively becomes so important that the mind-set of the organization changes. HR’s goal becomes to rapidly multiply ideas by creating the best teams. HR is becoming a designer of team experiences and a coach to move the organization forward.

With a greater focus on teams, performance management is changing, too. Quarterly and annual reviews are declining in favor of continuous performance management. Josh Bersin wrote in an article on his website titled HR Technology in 2018, “Continuous performance management is possible, it works, and it can transform your company. We’re not talking about doing away with ratings; rather, we are talking about building a new, ongoing process for goal setting, coaching, evaluation, and feedback.” As this concept is relatively new, the technology landscape is changing, but the platforms that lead five years from now will be built with continuous performance management, team connectivity, and agile practices in mind.


Agile concepts are easier to achieve through innovative, cloud-based solutions that are changing the way we work. Team-based communication platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Meet, Flowdock, Facebook Workplace, and many others help expedite communication by team and topic. These tools are often more efficient than email, enable smarter information sharing, and can even be integrated into your other solutions.

Team task management platforms such as Trello, Asana, Jira, Monday, Wrike, ClickUp, Airtable, Hive, and others all enable your teams to manage work, communicate better, and be accountable for results. You may start using one of these to help manage your personal tasks, but once you start focusing on using it to manage team members and their workload, task management platforms become really powerful for your organization.

Video conferencing enables you to be more connected to your network of teams and clients around the world. If you haven’t made videoconferencing part of your culture, now is a good time, as nonverbal communication represents two-thirds of all communication. Look at Zoom, GotoMeeting, join.me, WebEx, and BlueJeans as good places to get started.


Sometimes you don’t have the right talent to build the future. While, historically, many organizations looked to hire full-time and part-time talent near their local office, there are better staffing strategies when your teams are digitally connected. Your organization may not need a full-time data scientist, AI expert, IoT specialist, VR consultant, or similar specialist. And that talent might not be available where you operate. Enter the freelancer. Sites such as Upwork or Freelancer make it easy to find specialty talent to include in your cross-functional teams from around the world.

The upsides for including freelancers as a part of your talent network are innumerable. You can find the right talent, when you need it, at a lower overall cost. And when your project is over, you aren’t stuck with an under-allocated resource. By accessing the right talent for the right work, you can accomplish more of your goals better, faster, and for less money.


While Agile HR is likely to be embraced by large companies, it’s inherently easier for smaller and more nimble organizations. Large organizations that have CFOs and CHROs who are happy with the current practices may face resistance. Cultural and mindset changes starting at the top of the organization may be necessary. Even if the executive team is aligned with the strategy, lots of companies talk a good game without making the necessary organizational changes. Being agile has become a buzzword, and many are happy to repeat the phrase without the pain of changing the way they manage their organizations. But organizations that are successful in navigating these changes will likely be the innovators who have greater employee engagement, achieve closer collaboration with customers, and build better solutions.

For more information, including five tips for creating a more agile environment, be sure to read the complete article in the October issue of Mobility magazine.  There is also an opportunity to learn more about applying agile principles to talent sourcing at the 2019 Global Workforce Symposium’s session The Agile Workforce – Curating and Managing a Non-Traditional Workforce on Thursday, 17 October from 4:10 – 4:40 p.m.