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Agility, or the ability to pivot quickly to deliver value, is a strategic differentiator and current hot topic across industry and company size. Constant change is the new normal and driven by the dynamic world in which we live. Recent studies show that agility is critical for success, top-of-mind for many executives, and linked to profitable growth. An organization’s ability to pivot quickly to the next priority leads to better performance, and an edge on the competition. Panelists gathered from CTO2, Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), kCura, and McDonald’s Corporation to discuss best practices on what companies and HR leaders are doing to stay agile and how to integrate agility into human capital strategies and talent solutions.

Companies recognize agility as a learnable skill that can be strengthened in its people and embedded in an organization’s processes and culture. “Agile is about speed, being able to pivot, and being thoughtful about delivering value,” said Heather Corallo, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at CTO2. “Building a feedback culture to enable foresight, learning, adaptability and resilience is critical to understanding how engaged and agile people are feeling about the things happening around them,” continued Dorie Blesoff, Chief People Officer at kCura.

Organizations also adopt new mindsets to enable agility. “We put a premium on making things happen,” said Michael Kosiarek, Sr. Director of Global Organization Design at McDonald’s Corporation. “We went from silos to globalizing support functions to enable cross-functional collaboration.” The removal of barriers that inhibited cross-functional collaboration to deliver results required people to adopt a new mindset to achieve results together.

However, organizational agility is achieved through the collective result of each individual. Employees at any level may strengthen their agility through application and practice of the following tips.

  • Be an agile learner. “An agile learner is one who can pivot quickly. It is about how well you learn new things and remain open. Operating with a growth mindset that sees and embraces opportunity and learns from failure is key,” said Blesoff.
  • Deliver value thoughtfully. Define the purpose, direction, and understand how it connects to the big picture. Take time to ask yourself and your customer, “Why are we doing this? How is it delivering value?” “You can go as fast as you want, but if you don’t have the right direction, it can turn into chaos. Take note of what’s not delivering value and suggest to stop it,” Corallo said.
  • Stay aware of what’s happening around you. Take note of the context in which you are working and where things are moving. Read the news, industry reports, and network with peers to understand factors and trends driving change to your industry or line-of-business, and where you need to go. “You can’t respond quickly if you don’t understand where you are today, and what’s happening around you,” said Kosiarek.
  • Operate with a coaching mindset. Beyond managing processes, HR’s role is to understand the needs of the business and respond quickly and iteratively to serve them. Advise your customers or partners to think through what’s needed, and ask questions to understand the human capital or people perspective of said issue. “Stay curious, and make sure you are always introducing the right questions to enable your customers to achieve their goals,” Kosiarek said.