What Does it Mean to be "Agile"?

Dorothy Mead

There are a few frontrunners for most-used word in the new 20s. Remote, flexible, furlough, transformation. But agile, the concept that has been bubbling around since the broader business started to remove it from its development home, is leading the field.

Agility is seen as the difference between success and failure. Companies have had to move fast. They’ve had to move fast with a clear direction – more about velocity than speed. They’ve had to steer new courses, whether it’s from beer making, to hand sanitiser production, or to convert an office workforce into a remote team.

But it’s almost too easy to throw out the ‘agile’ word and apply it to any situation where there’s been some change. To misappropriate the quote, some companies are born agile, some achieve it, and some have it thrust upon them. While many companies claim to have been agile from their foundation, most businesses have followed a top down, hierarchical approach and just had the occasional agile moment – one project, one initiative, one team. It doesn’t quite work like that, and that is why there are few companies that can really make the agile claim.

Now as the pressures to find new ways to be successful mount – to the point that it may be more about survival than success, agile starts to gain appeal.  Even if companies weren’t on a pathway to achieving it – or recognise that it may have been thrust upon them, they are reviewing how this is included as part of overall transformation. Creating teams to get work done, rather than to conform to a traditional organisational structure. A focus on delivery and processes that adapt to different requirements. Leadership that shares its vision and works collectively to achieve it.  

At Talmix our focus has been on the workforce component of an agile business: talent underpins success to our mantra that with the right mix of talent, anything is possible. Our belief in creating agile teams that can be engaged rapidly and deployed instantly to the point of need, that can change as requirements develop, is longstanding.  

As businesses realise that agility is power, as they start their rebuilding path, we want to reinforce that going back to traditional workforce structures is going to divert them away from their desired destination. You can’t have an agile business without an agile workforce: it’s more than having a few people continue to work remotely, it’s a change to how work gets done, where it gets done, who does it and how these interact and refashion dynamically.

Start assembling your teams on what needs to be done, and finding the best matches to get that done. And then move them around. If you are hearing agile in every meeting, if you are seeing this as the next step, first of all take a long hard look and see if your talent plans are in line with this. The war on talent has moved on to new ground – and it’s a fast moving, agile one, and if you’re going to make that move, do it wholeheartedly.

Dorothy Mead

Dorothy is VP Marketing & Brand at Talmix. Passionate about the changing workforce and the future of work, she is driving market share for Talmix globally.