Enterprise Agility at The Human Resources Agenda (Part 1)

ARTICLE 

BY: Pablo Felice, Agility Specialist | PSM™, PPO™ | Trainer and Consultant | Certified Training Partner at Enterprise Agility University Argentina

There is no doubt that in the last year we have witnessed an unimaginable acceleration of change in various paradigms, from consumer habits to where we work and how we communicate and interact. In this context, companies in all sectors must prepare and adapt to survive and lead markets in a global context of accelerated change. When we analyze these paradigm shifts, we certainly hear ideas like:

  • We need to move from predictive models to adaptive models,

  • We need to face now a digital transformation,

  • We need to incorporate a customer-centric approach

 

We quickly think of IT departments, Customer Experience or Digital Marketing teams, but Human Resources does not appear among the first thought options.


In this article I would like to share with you my view on the importance of the role that Human Resources plays or should play in change processes and why I believe that Enterprise Agility needs to be on the agenda of HR management departments.

From HR to People

As a practitioner and passionate about Agile, I am very pleased to see the evolution (more evident in recent years) of the areas that deal with people in any organization. 

The term Human Resources first appeared in the economist’s book Distribution of Wealth in 1894 John Commons, in the 1920s the acronym HR became popular and companies began to think of their people as assets in the business. Then we moved from managing human resources to the human relationships that form a network of employees, we changed the chip from cost to value and became aware that value creation requires motivated and engaged people with a purpose to which they connect.

Today, and in line with the strategic importance of people management, some companies have moved to take a closer and more specific look at one of the most important sources of value creation and innovation, people, at the C-level.

Why Enterprise Agility in the People department agenda?

For several years I have been accompanying people, teams and organizations in processes of evolution and digital transformation of agility and one of the biggest challenges I have encountered is to evolve agile practices and mindsets beyond adopting a framework like Scrum or Kanban, going beyond IT teams, but fundamentally not reverting to less adaptive and participative ways of working.

In my search for the best way to bring agility to the organizational level and make this way of working sustainable over time, I started studying and engaging with different agility streams. Earlier this year, I joined Enterprise Agility University (EAU) where I found a comprehensive approach to agility and a holistic view that takes into account the various factors that come into play in a culture change with a strong scientific foundation.

Erich R. Bühler, the founder of EAU and author of the book Leading Exponential Change, proposes a model of Enterprise Agility based on 5 types of agility to build a flexible and resilient business. It also includes 3 dimensions that help build a company by taking into account individuals, strategic innovation and exponential markets.

One of the aspects I first associated with this model is that it proposes to look at agility from a technological perspective, a structural and outcomes-oriented perspective, and finally addresses the issue of individual and group habits and behaviors within the framework of social and mental agility.

It is precisely this holistic and systemic view that I believe is necessary for the evolution and transformation towards new ways of operating and interacting in order to achieve sustainable scaling, and from my point of view, the field of human relations, people, talents, etc. plays a fundamental role in this journey.

Without going into the reasons why Enterprise Agility is one of the best ways and strategies to prepare for and influence change, it is important to note that if it is to be sustainable, it requires changes:

  • Throughout the organization changes in the composition, functioning and configuration of teams

  • Structures and processes

  • The way employees connect and engage with common and strategic goals

  • The way technological developments and advances provide solutions and enhance the well-being of individuals (employees, customers, strategic partners, etc.)

In this first part of the article, I start with “Structural Agility” perspective proposed by the EAU model and connect it to some trends and competencies that are present or emerging in HR departments.

Structure and processes

Under the corporate sustainability approach that is beginning to emerge as a trend, companies are taking on a role as change agents and transformation of those who belong to them and the communities in which they are integrated, in addition to their familiar functions. In other words, they are operating with broader goals that transcend traditional boundaries, but which in turn offer a greater opportunity to create connections and attract talent,

These broader goals invite us to re-examine some aspects of current organizational structures and processes and the way we treat HR. With this in mind, and with the voice of the teams, we can ask ourselves:

  • Are our structures and processes flexible enough and do they work as a means to achieve these broader goals?

  • How do we design, implement, and communicate structural changes, facility reconfigurations, and process adjustments?

  • Are affected employees involved in or part of these phases of change

  • Are the performance evaluation systems we currently implement sticking to a purely individual approach, or are we starting to work with a team and ecosystem approach?

Are the changes we are making major prohibitions or are they the result of experiments that allow us to reduce the risk of undesirable effects and learn from the feedback we receive?

These are some of the questions that help us identify the extent to which structures and processes are enabling a new way of working or whether they are proving to be a brake on the mindset shift towards entrepreneurial agility. The Enterprise Agility University’s enterprise agility model posits that:

Structural Agility is Changing the organization’s structures and procedures by running experiments while minimizing the impact on organizational health.
Erich R. Bühler, Leading Exponential Change

Erich R. Bühler explains in his book, Leading Exponential Change that:

Organizational Health is Psychological safety plus creation of sustainable business value in perpetuity

In considering this view of how we promote change in processes and structures with an agile mindset to be a flexible, adaptive organization, even in aspects that are not usually adapted, such as structure, I see the role of HR as very important.

Although the aspects of culture and organizational climate have always been part of their remit, this area now needs to play a more important role in leading change.

In the second part of this article I will look at the link between the trends and development of the people areas and the aspects of Social Agility.

Pablo Felice is an Agility Specialist, PSM™, PPO™,  Trainer and Consultant, and a Certified Training Partner at Enterprise Agility University in Argentina

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