How to create a workforce that is truly agile

People Activation - 3 mins

We’re coming off the back of a year where agility has been more important than ever. Where businesses couldn’t plan further than a couple of weeks ahead and being able to pivot plans was a weekly, if not a daily necessity.

Even though things look set to settle back down to a more predictable pattern over the next few months, if the past 12 months have taught us anything, it’s the need for teams to be agile; to create an environment where individuals and teams can work together to find creative solutions to unexpected situations.

But in a world where ‘agility’ has been reduced to a buzzword, how can business leaders unlock its real benefits and create value?

What is agility?

Put simply, agility is an organisation’s ability to adapt quickly to market changes in ways that are beneficial to the business. For us, agility is less a way of working, it’s much more a way of thinking that allows people to respond in the most appropriate way to meet customer needs and create value.

We spoke to Jonathan Tripp - Head of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Agile Lyon Innovation Centre of Excellence (ALICE) about the relationship between agility and value - and how changing people’s mindsets can fundamentally change business culture for the benefit of everyone.

“You have to really scratch below the surface, push people to define the problem and determine the real need you’re trying to solve. What we’re always trying to do with agile thinking is to unlock ‘collective intelligence’ - to create an environment where people can express themselves, participate actively and where there is no judgement. A space where ‘wild ideas’ are encouraged, where people can question certainties and build on the ideas of others.

“When we train people in the importance of the agile mindset, we emphasise the power of listening - because listening allows you to collaborate more effectively. It’s important to create a culture of sharing

“You often have a mix of people in the same room: introverts and extroverts, senior management and junior staff. To be truly agile, everybody must be given the opportunity to share their perspective.”

‘No such thing as a bad idea’

An agile team is a team who listens, a team that feels comfortable sharing their ideas. It requires an environment where there is no such thing as a bad idea so that voices from all levels can be heard.

We believe that agility is value and when individuals are encouraged to share, collaborate and reflect, they think less about what goes on in their silo and more about how they - as a collective - can come up with ideas that create value. Jonathan says: “Value is often very difficult for people to define, so they reach for buzzwords - customer satisfaction or team motivation. But motivation isn’t value - the actual value might be the reduction in lost time because people are more motivated. We want people to think: ‘If I do something, what’s the tangible value? What will make things better - for the company or the customer.’

“The definition we use is ‘utility over availability’ - the right level of usefulness applied at exactly the right moment: that’s value.”

If you’d like to hear how People Activation can help maximise your employees contribution to the success of your business then please get in touch: peopleactivation.com/contact.