Has Agility Got a Bad Name Already?


Isn’t it always the way with things, that when something falls out of favour, something else quickly rushes in to fill that space. And so too it is with change management and agility.

Change management was too rigid. It was too planned, too traditional. And frankly it’s name had people either yawning or running scared within minutes. Time for a change, as it were.

Agility as a concept is great, and I’ve blogged about it before (see hrpotential – 6 Common Barriers to Workforce Agility). It’s a snappy, sexy new title with the promise of something more aligned to today’s fast paced, constantly moving working environment. Businesses wanted a piece of it, and why wouldn’t they? If you’ve got anything about you you’ve started calling yourself ‘agile’ and dropping it into as many conversations and documents as possible. But if you’re a practical type of soul (as we tend to be in HR) you might have tried to find out more and put the horse before the cart, so to speak.

And so I found myself sitting in a couple of talks recently that promised to impart all the secrets and amazing results to be obtained via said holy grail. I’m afraid I was disappointed. The most interesting part was when the audience were told they couldn’t make any money out of the presentation content. Exactly what ideas they were worried about us stealing I’m not not entirely certain.

I’m starting to think I was deluded. That I jumped straight on the bandwagon without any resistance. If that was the case, I have an excuse. I just so badly wanted to throw out change management.

Now the “experts” are preaching that agility “isn’t just about flexible working!”, but I never thought it was. I thought it was a mindset. A culture. An integration of analytics and strategy that help us to look into the future. I thought in the extreme it might lead to more fluidly defined roles and more varied career paths. Now you’re making me think it’s just about flexible working.

Sorry to take the wind out of anyone’s sails, but if you’d been at the same lecture as me, I don’t doubt you would feel just as deflated. The lasting impression given was that agility is, well, boring, and a lot of work for what might seem like relatively small wins.

In the meantime I’m still holding onto the hope that this was a one off and my original view of agility is going to be proved right….

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