Agile, digital, diversity – all hot topics for organisations today. But what really needs to happen to enable us to embrace these concepts?
A fundamental change in our culture is required. Our current working practices are reminiscent of the industrial revolution – needing people to be in a fixed place for a fixed amount of time and to follow fixed instructions. With globalisation and technology this no longer needs to be the case. In many industries, our office can be anywhere and we can often work at times that suit our lifestyle rather than a 9-5 model.
It’s perfectly possible to judge performance by outcomes rather than time and motion and often more effective. But all of this requires organisations to be brave and trust and empower their employees – they need to move outside of their comfort zone.
One way to help organisations do this, is to provide a logical structure to help distil these somewhat abstract concepts into more tangible and structured steps. Agile working does not mean a lack of structure or process just more flexible and relevant ones.
The starting point for this change should be clear and tangible objectives which encapsulate the purpose and outcomes for the organisation. These objectives will be delivered by the business model, but the efficiency and effectiveness of that delivery will rely on the motivation of its people – and that motivation is driven by culture. I believe that this is the part of the jigsaw, that is often missing in today’s attempts to implement agile working.
Culture is difficult to define, implement and measure, but not impossible. The starting point is to articulate and write down what you would like the culture to be. The organisation then needs to articulate how each aspect of it will contribute and support the overall objectives, any gaps can then be analysed and filled accordingly.
The objectives and culture can then need to be translated into the more tangible skills, knowledge and behaviours required. But this is where it gets interesting, our minds need to go beyond our normal boundaries to investigate how these skills and behaviours can be found, developed and nurtured. By embracing diversity and looking outside of the 9-5 working model, a whole new world of talent is opened up. The model then becomes self-fulfilling as a diverse and happy workforce will feed and develop the culture, which will in turn feed and develop the organisation.
So, the moto to this story is, be brave, look beyond the norm and try something a bit different!