What is an agile organization?

An agile organization is a company that responds to unpredictable market changes with resilience and flexibility. While traditional organizations embody a hierarchical structure and rely on extensive processes and planning, agile organizations act promptly and proactively to satisfy customers and flow with the shifting market. 

The pillars of an agile organization include: 

  • Independent, autonomous, dedicated, and passionate teams
  • Frequent communication and cross-functional collaboration 
  • Intelligent and adept decision-making
  • A shared customer-centric purpose  
  • A growth mindset
  • Cutting-edge technology

Why should HR leaders care about building an agile organization?

Whether an organization is coping with economic and social upheaval or trying to keep up with the constant tech evolution, companies need to be agile to thrive in the current market. As guardians of the workforce, HR leaders must be able to steer people from all departments towards agile business practices. Agile organizations typically have:

  • Increased revenue  
  • Higher levels of innovation and creativity
  • Greater engagement and retention  

How can HR leaders contribute to building an agile organization?

Each organization must determine its approach to agility. HR leaders can help promote agile practices within their company by incorporating these steps:

  • Build a culture that values thought diversity. Collaboration is one of the building blocks of an agile organization. Thus, a company culture that values psychological safety and encourages people to share their insights provides fertile ground for productive discussions and intelligent decision-making. HR leaders can further encourage people to voice their opinions by offering various feedback venues such as performance reviews, surveys, stay interviews, or an input feature within the company’s HRIS.
  • Integrate retrospectives for HR. Retrospectives, typically used by software developers, are brief, routine meetings that enable the team members to assess their progress and address challenges. HR leaders can integrate the retrospective model of meeting every 2-4 weeks to ensure that HR processes lead to achieving desired objectives.
  • Focus on learning agility. By hiring people with learning agility–a readiness to learn skills, accept new challenges and adapt quickly to change–HR leaders can bring in people not just with talent but with resilience. HR leaders can use learning ability assessments and open-ended interview questions to gauge confidence and communication abilities. Mckinsey takes agility to the next level by advising companies to hire an agility coach to train employees from all tiers in adopting an agile mindset and behavior. 

Why should creating an agile organization be part of modern HR strategy?

HR’s role is to support people in doing their jobs well. By incorporating a strategy that aligns with the company’s agile approach, HR leaders can assist the organization in functioning as a cohesive unit and making smart decisions under pressure with poise and purpose.