Accelerating Agile – Part 1: The Spread of Agile

Over 100 HR Leaders, 12 speakers and 8 hours of thought-provoking and innovative discussion on how we transition to Agile ways of working. We were delighted to partner with Unilever to bring Accelerating Agile to London’s Corinthia on Wednesday 26th February.

In the first part of this blog, Chris Andrew reflects on his impressions of the day and thinking around how we work and operate reward in this newly agile world.

Part 2 will focus on how communications will activate the move to agile in an engaging and inspiring way, and spark positive changes in your organisation.

The Spread of Agile

I was thrilled to be one of the speakers at Accelerating Agile, an exciting international event held in London last week.

Accelerating Agile was the first of its kind, with Caburn Hope part of a team of companies who have expertly created Neovation Neovation, which represents a movement of people focussed on the future of work. In an ever-changing world, Neovation has been established to share best practice with organisations trying to find the perfect balance between purpose, business performance, and personal fulfilment.

Change is now a constant and with technology as an enabler, it drives a profound effect on the world of work. At one end, technology is automating many processes traditionally managed by people. At the other end, people are increasingly expecting more and more flexibility and control over how, when and where they work. The focus of Accelerating Agile was to gather a group of future-thinking HR and business leaders to discuss Agile in this context. What is it? How can it work for my business? How do you reward people in an Agile and less hierarchical organisation?

The gathering was kicked off by Peter Newhouse, EVP Global Reward at Unilever who introduced a simple model, inspired by the work of Ken Wilbur. In simple terms, the model identifies four elements that influence ways of working: Values, Behaviour, Systems and Processes, and Culture. When Peter asked the room, “Which of these areas were considered most important when it comes to managing change?”, it was refreshing to see that many people thought the effects on culture was a priority. In so many organisations I speak to, communication is seen as a matter of process, a broadcasting vehicle – send the policy, tick the box, job done – underwhelming when it’s people’s energy and action that’s required.

In the afternoon, it was my turn up on stage. I spoke about how so many organisations underestimate the emotional impact of change – particularly when it comes to new ways of working that will disrupt the long-held traditions of job descriptions, promotions, reward and status. Of course, you need to back any change programme up with robust systems and processes but, when it comes to driving behavioural change that sticks, organisations must communicate with impact, invite people along for the ride and inspire them to be part of it.

After all, other than activating transformation, a big part of Agile is about bringing together individuals with specialist skills for a specific project. Therefore, it makes sense to communicate in a way that celebrates that individuality.

My thoughts echoed (phew) those made by Leena Nair, CHRO of Unilever who lit up the room with her thoughts on treating people as human beings, keeping things simple and above all, the importance of working with purpose.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience that felt more like a gathering of friends and colleagues than a conference. I look forward to being part of Neovation going forward and driving meaningful and sustainable change in the world of work.