On June 14, the Amon team was present at the annual Vlerick HR Day in Ghent. Among the many inspiring sessions was one about “Making Agility Work for your Company.” Having recently gone through a major Agile transformation ourselves – the results of which we shared in an inspirational breakfast session in April – we were naturally curious about what others could add to this.
Three lessons learned:
Agile is an Adjective
‘Agile’ is an adjective. Still, over the past couple of years, I have met quite a few C-level executives, directors or teams leads that claimed their organizations, units or teams “were Agile.” While I hardly doubt their achievements, seeing agility as a finished state runs counter to the very definition of it as a mobile, iterative flow.
Agile organizations embrace (r)evolution. As world events, market evolutions and shifts in consumer demand impact the businesses we are in, an agile approach accepts change, not as a potential risk or threat, but as an inevitability – and an opportunity.
So rather than being a ‘thing’ or a ‘state’ in itself, agility needs something else to get its meaning: Agile workflows, Agile meetings, Agile structures,… which may (or may not) co-exist peacefully with more established, older practices.
Attitude makes Agile
There are a lot great books and frameworks out there that can set your company on a path towards Agility. But whatever processes and tools your company may implement, they are useless without the need for continuous improvement being embraced by every single one of its employees.
Generally, people who flourish in Agile organizations are able to move beyond established roles, eager to challenge the state of things, and generally have an aversion to established hierarchies. It will be these people that act as Agile evangelists. So the question to ask yourself is “do we have these people on board?”
If the answer to this question is negative, you’ll need to ask yourself why. Does your company brand appeal to this kind of talent? Does it have the hiring and evaluation policies in place to bring these people on board? And most importantly, does it have the culture of empowerment to keep them challenged and satisfied? Finding the right recruitment partner to assist in these matters can be a differentiator between failure and success.
Always Put your Customer First
So why are Agile organizations more successful than others? One of the key reasons is that Agility organizations prioritize on business value: nothing is more important than the end result – which is the result that creates value for your client. This urges business to keep their focus on innovation, delivery and shortened time to market.
But more importantly, Agility leads to more profound ways of collaboration and co-creation. Agile organizations dare to move away from the old model of the company as a walled castle, closed to the outside world. Instead, they break down those walls, and actively seek win-win situations that arise by working together.
At Amon, for instance, Agility has meant radically re-thinking the traditional supplier model of recruitment, and establishing a deepened partnership with our clients. Today, our success is made by approaching the recruitment- and onboarding process as a collaborative effort, based on mutual transparency and trust.
Dries Vrijders, Consultant