Taking agility from theory to reality - why now?

Agility. An agile organisation. A buzzword that is starting to gain popularity in the HR community - but there is limited evidence that agile working practices are becoming the norm. Yes there are examples of “agile scrum masters” for teams, and new flexible working models, but data suggests that over 70% of companies are considered to have low business agility fluency1 .

We believe that the future success of businesses today is dependent on an organisation enabling and utilising agility. Agility in the workforce will gain huge focus as organisations automate many activities but demand new and different skills from their people to meet customer needs or embrace new technologies. In short, there will be a premium placed on deep human skills and organisations should prepare early for this.

What is agility?

Simply defined, agility is the ability to move quickly and easily2. It means adapting to differing market demands, working flexibly and globally, juggling multiple projects and thinking creatively to respond to new client or customer requirements. It will vary for different industries, and organisations will pursue agility in their own way but the central thesis is the same - equipping and encouraging a workforce to adapt quickly to new demands placed on them.

Why now?

We are living through a time of considerable innovation, transformation and unpredictability with volatility in the geopolitical landscape and regulatory environment, and technological disruption. Constant change is a given but it is the rapid speed at which change hits that brings agility to the forefront. Businesses must embrace new ways of working to increase their competitive advantage in our ever changing environment.

What should we be thinking about?

To be as agile as possible a custom, organisation wide, agility approach is required.

At PwC we think of agility through three lenses:

Organisational agility:

This is about having an operating model allowing services and products to be delivered through changeable team structures, within flexible working environments. Strategic decisions for organisation and people needs are made quickly through streamlined, transparent governance processes. HR technology supports this by providing standardisation, simplification and flexible access to current, consistent and reliable information.

Workforce agility:

The ability to access and deploy the right talent in the right place, at the right time and cost, whilst meeting regulatory and reporting requirements is a critical component of agility. Organisations are starting to track and map current and future skills requirements to enable this and we are helping an organisation do this for its core and contingent workforce. They wanted to plan the appropriate workforce for their future based on their predicted workload. Through modelling different scenarios they have successfully identified steps required to build a flexible workforce to support their target operating model. This required an organisation-wide approach, not HR alone - emphasising the importance of seeing agility as all-encompassing.

People agility:

Through all this is the need to empower people to work in agile ways by encouraging an innovative and flexible mentality. Embedding agility within culture and values is critical to making the change in mindset stick. Companies are transforming digital learning and development tools to grow diverse skill sets and we are seeing modernised performance management programmes that recognise and incentivise agile ways of working.

Organisations must move efficiently, frequently reassessing and adapting. They need to have agility at their core to pre-empt and create new opportunities from change. Are you utilising the current uncertainty as a catalyst to prepare your organisation for the new world of work?

Contact us to find out more.

1The Business Agility Report, Business Agility Institute, 1st Edition 2018 2https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/agility   


Clare Coley | Manager
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Jack Towers | Senior Associate
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