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Human Resources Agility in a VUCA World
by Nick Horney, Ph.D., Leadership Agility Practice Leader

CHROs have the opportunity to take the lead in overcoming organizational, culture, experience, process, etc. barriers to develop HR Agility to  more effectively compete in VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world. Barriers that CHROs will confront range from HR processes to organizational culture. For example, existing HR processes for recruiting, onboarding, engagement, talent management, etc. primarily focus on full-time employees with limited consideration for contingent workers as part of the organization's talent portfolio.  The business imperative for Human Resources is to become Focused, Fast and Flexible.

The rapidly accelerating growth of the Gig Economy represents one of the most significant and all-encompassing VUCA challenges faced by Human Resources professionals. With this workforce disruption, the fundamental question is whether Human Resources can demonstrate the agility to lead the change in culture, programs, processes, and policies originally designed for work completed by full-time employees to a new era when more of the work is being completed by a talent portfolio increasingly represented by contingent workers (AKA -- Gigsters, free agents, contingent workers, temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, contract workers, independent contractors or freelancers).

By Tom O'Shea, CMC, Organizational Agility Practice Leader

Have you ever looked through a pair of night goggles when it is pitch black dark?

It really is quite amazing what you can see.  Things appear that are otherwise completely invisible to your unaided eyes.  These are invaluable tools for use by military forces as well as wild game hunters.  Night vision goggles work by using image enhancement technology that collects all the available light, including infrared light, and amplifies it so that you can easily see what's going on in the dark.

Often these night vision goggles are used to help us identify or discover potentially disruptive creatures (sometimes human and sometimes not).  Recently, I participated in a very interesting meeting with some colleagues in another learning and consulting company. We discussed various ways of anticipating change and discovering the forces of disruptive change coming at us,  i.e. the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) that surrounds us.  This idea of night goggles came to mind.

Sometimes I think it would be very helpful if there were a corporate variety of vision enhancing technology - ways for helping leaders to "see" what is happening in and around their organizations that often stays invisible.  There are many amazing technology solutions for many things - I have my doubts whether we can simplify this equation enough to reduce it to an app or new device.  In the absence of such off-the-shelf solutions, business leaders will need to rely on training their perspectives and building awareness of the kind of questions and resources that can to help them recognize where their disruptive change is coming from next.

By Mike Richardson, Team Agility Practice Leader
Just listen to Bill Ford's explanation of why they parted company with Mark Fields as CEO and its a clear expression of a lack of Agility:
  • Read headline summary at my Vistage Executive Street blog:    What to learn from the firing of Ford CEO Mark Fields revealing 3 insights into Agility:
    • Insight 1:  Deliver an "And-Proposition"
    • Insight 2:  Migrate Multiple Business Models
    • Insight 3:  Make Decisions with Agility

To watch the videos and read the transcripts follow the read more link below:
  • "Mark had a tremendous career at Ford and did great things.Starting with the "Way Forward Plan" in North America, that was a huge building block for our turnaround at Ford, that was a great achievement he had. Then, if I just look at the last few years under his leadership, we have had record profitability and cash-flow. Really solid results ... that has put us financially in a solid position so we can chart the future that Jim and I envision for Ford to have. So, I am very thankful to Mark and he had a terrific career here. But this is a time of unprecedented change ... you've seen all the changes that we have been talking about for some time, well they are here now, and time of great change in my mind needs a transformational leader and thankfully we have that in Jim. ... He is a proven transformational leader, he's a visionary thinker" ... but make no mistake, he is not just a futurist, he is a very good operating executive, but what he can do is integrate future thinking into an operation and help seamlessly deliver a future that has been envisioned" (Bill Ford)

By Ben Baran, Ph.D. , Agility Analytics Practice Leader

"What are some of the ways you recognize superior performance?" I asked. 

"Well, we used to have 'The Hero Fund'," said one of the executives.

"It was a pot of money we set aside for people who really went above and beyond the call of duty, helping the company in a crisis."

The rest of the executives started to get excited, apparently remembering The Hero Fund in all its glory. 

"You know, we should bring that back," said another. 

The excitement continued to build.   Finally, I couldn't help myself.  

"Hold on a second," I said. "Isn't the whole point to avoid getting yourself into situations requiring people to be heroic? I mean, if you're having to put out 'fires' all the time, isn't there something deeper that needs to be fixed?"

I could see the excitement start draining away from their faces. 

Fortunately, these particular executives were very smart, so they quickly began to see what I was trying to communicate. We continued the conversation, eventually creating a number of other ideas to explore. 

But this idea of worshipping heroes and heroic actions, I've found, wasn't limited to this particular company. Numerous other organizations have similar ideas woven into their culture, with either formal bonuses or informal systems of praise and recognition that reward being a "hero." These norms and systems incent behavior, encouraging additional heroics from employees. 

To be fair, there's nothing inherently wrong with values and norms that prize behavior that goes above and beyond the ordinary. Every organization benefits from having people who do just that.   

Agility Consulting Affiliate Corner

University of Alabama Affiliate Offers Leadership Agility Seminar
All eyes are on Birmingham, AL for September 26-28, 2017 for The University of Alabama, Bama at Work, seminar offering of Leadeship Agility.  "Birmingham is Alabama's largest economic market and offers a broad opportunity to work with industry leaders to enhance their organizational agility", states Mary Patterson, Program Manager for Bama at Work.  The need for continued development of the leadership capabilities within organizations has been a key focus in the overall economic development efforts statewide.  Agility Consulting and Training in concert with its University Affiliate, The University of Alabama, and Bama at Work division endeavor to aid in this needed effort.

The Leadership Agility Seminar is scheduled for September 26-28, 2017 in Birmingham, AL at the Spark Training Center home of Jefferson County, Alabama training and development initiatives.    

Creating Agility in a VUCA World!


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JULY 2017
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