The past 12 months have distinguished agile businesses from the competition, which will continue to struggle with market disruptions and seizing new opportunities.
To achieve definitive business agility, CHROs must shift their organizations’ focus to human-centric metrics—that is, looking beyond budgets and conventional measures of profitability. While budgets are useful on a balance sheet, C-suite leaders need a far broader spectrum of metrics against which to gauge their performance.
After all, quarterly targets are essential, but they’re not as important as the long-term ability of an organization to understand its customers and prioritize its employees. While sales forecasts and export quotas are fundamental, they’re not as critical to long-term operational agility as talent, skills, and employee experience.
These human-focused factors play a far more significant role in forming agile businesses, i.e., those that can demonstrate organizational agility in a cohesive chain that stretches from the warehouse to the boardroom. And those factors won’t occur without top-down leadership from the C-suite.
The key pillars of a human-centric business
The five core pillars critical to achieving organizational agility are leadership vision, structural agility, process agility, portfolio agility, and technology architecture, according to an IDC white paper sponsored by ServiceNow.
The study reveals characteristics that senior leadership need to adopt to encourage this kind of agility in their businesses. Instead of planning, directing, and controlling the organization, agile leadership is all about envisioning, architecting, and coaching.
Executives also must adopt a more cross-functional approach, with all C-suite leaders pulling in the same direction.
From the C-suite into workflows
How, then, do these factors translate into actual business operations?
A key operational characteristic of agile businesses is a willingness to look beyond traditional hierarchies and turn to more meritocratic systems and processes. It’s helpful to envision these processes as the sets of actions needed to complete a complex task, such as onboarding a new employee or providing break-and-fix support for an external customer.
Once you remove obsolete management silos, meritocratic businesses open the door to self-regulating teams, which flourish in the absence of arbitrary restrictions. This leads to a flexible and fluid business with self-forming diverse teams, knowledge sharing, collaboration, and a capability to rapidly scale talent and skills to meet upcoming needs.
After all, a leader is no longer someone with a title—she’s someone who shows action, champions empowerment, and drives innovation.
The goal should be to create responsive organizations capable of rapidly switching direction, changing tack, or executing a 180 when necessary.