The 5 Steps for Agility Fitness in the Gig Economy

The 5 Steps for Agility Fitness in the Gig Economy

Introduction

The volume, velocity and intensity of “noise” encountered in the Gig Economy requires the Human Resources function demonstrate agility in its policies, processes and practices to enable the organization to transform to be more Gig Economy capable. The secret to becoming more agile as an HR Team is to demonstrate that you can be focused, fast and flexible, even in the turbulent circumstances.   

The AGILE Model® offers the framework that will help you attain and sustain your HR agility fitness target as well as serve as an Agility Fitness Coach for others in the organization (Horney, Eckenrod, McKinney & Prescott, 2014).  But it takes work to achieve this agility, just like it takes work to achieve your personal physical fitness goal. 

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DISCOVERING AGILITY IN “THE OPEN ORGANIZATION”

“Whenever I talk with leaders of companies in (all) industries …  I hear a consistent theme: Frustration that they can’t move FAST enough, given the organizations they have, to stay competitive.  They know that capabilities like SPEED and AGILITY are becoming the core of competitive advantage …”. 

This is the context for why Jim Whitehurst, CEO of the $2B Raleigh, NC based open source software leader called Red Hat, wrote the book entitled THE OPEN ORGANIZATION and shares his open source code of operating principles that have helped make Red Hat incredibly successful by all measures. Not bad to generate $2 Billion in annual sales revenue and yet have a market value of over $10 Billion.  Lots of positive things have to be aligned and sustainable to generate that combination.

Whitehurst took over as CEO at Red Hat back in 2008 after a successful turnaround run as COO of Delta Airlines.  As he was being recruited to join and lead Red Hat, it was clear that the culture of an “open organization” already existed at Red Hat therefore required a significant transformation from Whitehurst to move from more traditional command and control zone to what at first felt like a totally out of control zone. It makes perfect sense that the company founded and built on the premise and manifesto of an “open source”, hyper-collaborative model of software development would instill those same tenets into how they develop and operate their organization as well.

The juggernaut to Red Hat success has been the capacity to connect all the dots – their people (both internal and external), purpose and passion in an energized ecosystem of a high engagement, full contact, transparent, authentic operating system that thrives on innovation, speed and accomplishment.  Some might call that culture – but it really is so much more … smart and activated culture or maybe enabled, dynamic culture.  Or maybe just an open organization.

Cultivating passion does not come naturally to all leaders – for many it requires a super conscious effort to give themselves and others permission and encouragement to show the emotional involvement needed to make it real.  Whitehurst’s leadership tips for leaders looking to create a more passionate, open organization:

  1. Passion is contagious … is yours positive, evident and noticeable for others to follow?
  2. Is there a clearly stated purpose or mission … real purpose (beyond profits) fuels real passion?
  3. Add passionate words to your vocabulary … like love, excited, amazing … what evokes positive future sense?
  4. Look to hire folks that are passionate … questions like – what are you passionate about … what inspires you?
  5. Create regular vehicles for people to show their “unvarnished” passion … outings, team building events, etc.

Red Hat believes in a different starting point than the traditional hierarchical organization … turning the typical pyramid upside down and placing their emphasis on the Purpose (WHY) along with a much more AGILE and engaged operating method (HOW) to achieve extraordinary outcomes (WHAT).

 

This organizational model is much better suited for the rampant change and extraordinary speed of play in the business world today … and tomorrow.  As we outline in our book, Focused, Fast & Flexible: Creating Agility Advantage in a VUCA World, organizational success starts with the strength of your Core Belief System.  At Red Hat, their core belief system is nurtured, massaged, activated and energized everyday which makes it stronger, truer and more potent as a success enabler with nuclear capacity to attract and retain a full network of talented contributors … a community of success.

The Open Organization and the Agile Organization share more than core belief systems – they share the realization that activated and empowered organizations need tools and capabilities to support decision making ownership and speed expected from all levels in the organization.  Interestingly, both of us also promote the use of a simple yet elegant decision making tool first introduced by AF Colonel John Boyd back in the Korean War called the OODA LOOP.  The OODA Loop framework (Observe, Orient, Decide & Act)  enables rapid and rigorous engagement to support decisions and action closest to the front lines of customer engagement.  Click the link above for more background on OODA.

So, how are you doing in your organization in all of these dimensions? I encourage you to take a deeper look at The Open Organization and challenge yourselves on what you can learn from this open source of success.  You will find the combination of our two frameworks to be quite complimentary. You can take a free self-assessment to explore your Organizational Agility Profile as well.

I would love to get your thoughts and feedback as always.

About Tom O’Shea

Volatile, unpredictable, even erratic- these are the times we live in and exactly why Tom O’Shea is considered a trusted advisor and collaborator helping leaders, teams and organizations adapt and thrive by becoming more focused, fast and flexible in an increasingly complex and ambiguous world.

As Principal at Agility Consulting and Training, Tom brings a unique blend of strategic, operational and organizational expertise and support that is rare and valuable.  With perceptive insight, proven strategies and impactful coaching skills, he helps clients at the enterprise, team and individual leader levels exceed even their own expectations. Learn more about Tom here. 

Orienting New Employees Starts Well Before You Meet Them

Orienting New Employees Starts Well Before You Meet Them

My fascination with the military—and the U.S. Navy, in particular—started before I was 10 years old. And during the decade between then and when I was commissioned as an officer in 2002, I acquired a whole set of ideas about what actually being in the Navy would be like. 

These ideas came from books, movies, stories from veterans and myriad other information sources around me. 

Some of those ideas turned out to be accurate; others weren’t. For example, most of what you experience on a day-to-day basis in the U.S. Navy—especially if you’re a ship driver like I was—bears little to no resemblance to Maverick’s job as a fighter pilot in the 1986 movie Top Gun. 

But other patterns of behavior such as respect for rank structure, commitment to teammates, and aspects of selfless leadership that I’d learned about turned out to be 

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The Gig Economy: A Disruptor Requiring HR Agility

The Gig Economy:  A Disruptor Requiring HR Agility

The Need for HR Agility in an Era of the Gig Economy

The era of digital disruption for Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) is often referred to as the Gig Economy (AKA -- contingent work, sharing economy, agile talent, non-traditional work relationships, or alternate forms of employment) where Uber and Airbnb have received most of the attention from the press.  Other Gig Economy “digital disruptors” include Lyft (ride sharing), UpCounsel (legal experts), Instacart (shopping and delivery), and TaskRabbit (odd jobs). The rapidly accelerating growth of the Gig Economy represents one of the most significant and all-encompassing challenges faced by Human Resources professionals.  The fundamental question is 

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How to Make Every New Employee Quit

How to Make Every New Employee Quit

"It was exciting. I was looking for a new job, and I started having conversations with an executive at a successful company. We talked about how the organization was growing, and that led to discussions about how I might fit into their workforce. 

"Given my experience and unique background, he said that I could start out by learning the business for a while. Then, I’d be quickly promoted into a senior-level role in which I’d be able to use my expertise. 

"It sounded like a wonderful opportunity, so I uprooted my life and my family, moved to the city where the company is located and started work." 

This was how a conversation I had recently with a friend began. We hadn’t seen each other in quite a while, so we spent time catching up. This particular friend has a very interesting background and a track record of success in tough jobs. Naturally, I was curious to hear more about how his recent job transition was going. 

He went on. 

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The AGILE Model®: A Change Agility Framework for CHROs

CHROs' Critical Role: Preparing the Organization for Change

How well organizations are prepared to survive in this turbulent business climate is becoming a fundamental issue and challenge for CHROs.  Organizations that are agile are the ones that quickly see opportunities, are shrewd in rapidly fine-tuning strategies, are able to meet customers’ individual needs, develop capable, flexible and project-based processes, and are fast at learning and unlearning. What is the role of the CHRO in equipping organizations to meet the challenge of the accelerating pace, volume, diversity, and scope of change?  Now, more than ever, CEOs and boards will demand that their CHROs become strategic partners in equipping their organizations to be change-ready (agile) to adapt and thrive to the challenge of the turbulent 21st century.

The practice of change management has been radically impacted by the continuing turbulent business environment characterized by 

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The Gig Economy: VUCA and Opportunities for CHROs

The Gig Economy:  VUCA and Opportunities for CHROs

The Gig Economy is a Digital Disruption Challenge for CHROs

The era of digital disruption for Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) is often referred to as the Gig Economy (AKA -- contingent work, sharing economy, agile talent, non-traditional work relationships, or alternate forms of employment) where Uber and Airbnb have received most of the attention from the press.  Other Gig Economy “digital disruptors” include Lyft (ride sharing), UpCounsel (legal experts), Instacart (shopping and delivery), and TaskRabbit (odd jobs). 

The rapidly accelerating growth of the Gig Economy represents one of the most significant and all-encompassing challenges faced by human resources professionals.  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 

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The Rise of HR … Agility

The Rise of HR … Agility

It’s easy to fall into patterns and comfortable routines. 

Some of those are great. Take, for example, dental hygiene. Or strength training. 

But if our routines too often keep us around the same people, we run the risk of stagnating. It’s even worse if we’re isolated—or insulated, depending on how you look at it—from other ideas. 

That’s one reason why I enjoy professional conferences. Even if you’re around people in a similar area of expertise or interest, you’ll learn a great deal from their different perspectives and experiences. 

Last week, I spent a few days at the annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) in Anaheim, Calif. And in between all of the

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Engaging Employees and Customers: An Interview with Heather Gordon

Engaging Employees and Customers: An Interview with Heather Gordon

My research, teaching and consulting frequently focuses on employees and the strategic use of human capital, and the topic of employee engagement has been hot for some time now. It’s clearly important—organizations oftentimes thrive most when their employees are fully contributing their efforts and expertise. Related to the topic of employee engagement is the area of customer engagement—another critical topic. 

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to pick the brain of someone who is on the front lines of engaging both employees and customers at one of the world’s largest companies: Heather Gordon, Ph.D. 

Heather is currently the customer strategy manager at Duke Energy Corporation. Here’s my interview with her. 

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Research-Based Implications of The Gig Economy

Research-Based Implications of The Gig Economy

Chances are that you’ve encountered the “gig economy” in your organization already, even if you haven’t called it that.

Simply speaking, it refers to the increasingly prevalent trend of people and organizations choosing to work in temporary, contingent arrangements. I’ve experienced it across a number of industries and sectors, from working alongside adjunct professors to advising Afghan police officers alongside civilian contractors. I’ve worked with a number of businesses that are increasingly maintaining a contingent workforce that can respond to shifting labor demands.

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Peering into Team-Agility & Talent-Agility: A New Tool for HR

Peering into Team-Agility & Talent-Agility:  A New Tool for HR

I love chairing peer groups as they are extremely powerful in parting the curtains and giving us a glimpse into deeper levels of team-agility and talent-agility.  There is nothing quite like the moment of truth in which the peer group team has created such a safe, transparent and trusting place in which an individual participant can experience the beginnings of a shift in their talent and taking their game to the next level.  Best of all, the whole team learns from the experience, taking away value individually and collectively, even though they were processing another participant’s issue, challenge or opportunity.  It becomes a reliable, predictable and repetitive cycle of win/win/win which spirals upwards, making new levels of talent-agility and team-agility possible.

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Should We Abolish Performance Reviews?

Should We Abolish Performance Reviews?

In four weeks from today, I’ll be enjoying the company of thousands of organizational psychologists at this year’s annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) in Anaheim, Calif. This is a fun-loving crowd. It’s probably also one of the few crowds in which you’ll find passionate debates about topics such as psychometrics, leadership assessments or classical test theory.

At last year’s conference, in fact, a structured debate took place on the topic of performance appraisals. Yes, you read that correctly.  

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The Global Gig Economy: Exclusive Interview with Global Talent Management Expert -- Mary Eckenrod

The Global Gig Economy:  Exclusive Interview with Global Talent Management Expert -- Mary Eckenrod

Articles about The Gig Economy have been written during the past 18 months with the focus technology-enabled on-demand work opportunities with Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, to name a few.  However, little has been written about the impact of The Gig Economy on Human Resources Professionals as it relates to the challenges of the growing importance of this new “Talent Management Portfolio™.”  I had the fortune to recently interview Mary Eckenrod, the former VP of Global Talent Management for Johnson Controls, Blackberry, Lenovo and Cisco about the global talent challenges for Chief Human Resources Officers presented by The Gig Economy.

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What HR People Need to Know About Change

What HR People Need to Know About Change

In a recent post and in some of my research, I’ve been exploring the role that human resources (HR) plays in organizational change. This includes both HR as a function and HR professionals themselves as they get involved (either proactively or reactively) in change efforts.

And there’s one key aspect of organizational change that I think is helpful for HR people to consider. 

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Agile Organizational Design: The Case of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force

Agile Organizational Design: The Case of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force

One of my colleagues—a super-smart scholar and all-around wonderful person—once asked me for my ideas about topics to cover in an upcoming class about organizational structure. He recognized the importance of the topic in general, but he wasn’t finding anything particularly exciting to cover. The typical areas of formalization, span of control, centralization and the chain of command simply weren’t doing it for him.

I can’t remember what I may have suggested for that class. Whatever I said, it probably wasn’t very helpful.

But my thinking about organizational structure has changed in recent years, 

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The Irony and Urgency of HR

The Irony and Urgency of HR

Leadership Agility is becoming a business imperative for an organization's leadership talent as well as the transformation of the Human Resources function.  My colleague, Gruffie Clough, and I had the fortune to recently interview Ben Hill, the VP of Talent Management for TURNER, about his company's talent challenges and solutions now and in the future.

AS A TURNER LEADER, WHICH ASPECT OF TALENT MANAGEMENT IN THIS VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT IS MOST CHALLENGING?

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What’s HR’s Role in Change Management?

What’s HR’s Role in Change Management?

Is human resources (HR) the organizational function that must lead when dealing with organizational change?

Or is managing change a fundamental leadership competency that a wide array of people from every function should have or develop? If that’s the case, should HR professionals themselves try to be change agents?

What works best in organizations that are dealing with a particularly turbulent business environment?

These are a few of the questions that I had the pleasure of discussing last week in a lively conversation in Cincinnati with

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A Lesson about Change from a Poet Who Died in 1827

A Lesson about Change from a Poet Who Died in 1827

For the British poet William Blake, many aspects of life in the late 1700s and early 1800s were bleak. In one of his favorite poems of mine, simply titled “London,” he wrote of such bleakness. It’s a short poem, only 16 lines, but it’s rather deep. Here it is:

London

I wander through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet,

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HR in 2016: Top Industry Insights from SHRM, Bersin and SIOP

HR in 2016: Top Industry Insights from SHRM, Bersin and SIOP

One increasingly common trend is, well, trend reports. Professional organizations, research firms and consultancies frequently publish what they see as the latest developments or top predictions for the future. Depending on the source, these trend reports can be thought-provoking and insightful.

At the very least, I find it interesting to see what various leaders see on the horizon. 

Recently, three

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The HR Mindset That Wins Friends and Influences CEOs

The HR Mindset That Wins Friends and Influences CEOs

During a recent conversation I had with a senior executive, I brought up some of my efforts to promote strategic thinking and using data to guide decision-making among human resources (HR) professionals. She nodded in agreement, but then she interrupted.

“You know, there’s one thing I hate about our HR department,” she said. “They think like gate keepers, when they should be thinking like service providers.”

She went on to describe how

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