Twelve months ago, AFR announced on its front page ANZ’s plans to ‘blow up bureaucracy’ with agile practices. Since then, ANZ has described its agile transformation as ‘agile ways of working’, ‘agile working approach’ or ‘new ways of working’.
While the term itself ‘new ways of working’ has been bandied around for a couple of years, adoption in organisations is still a work in progress.
The HR Zone defines New Ways of Working (NWoW) as ‘an initiative looking to boost flexibility and retention, largely by removing many of the barriers and management styles of the past and bringing them into line with a modern multigenerational workforce’.
I’m often asked: so what has brought all this about and what it does it mean for organisations and leaders?
Let’s firstly look at the game changers in the external environment that are creating the need for the agile or new approaches. These are driven by numerous disruptive factors in the macro-environment, such as digitisation, technology, mobilisation and automation.
The shifts needed within an organisation to adopt new ways of working are often less obvious. If we take into account the power shifts, defined as New Power by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms, we know that the traditional, hierarchical models of power are no longer hitting the mark in motivating people. Command and control is being replaced by connection and collaboration. For many, this means letting go of thinking and practices that have served them well over decades.
For an organisation to become agile, and to adopt new ways of working, it requires a close look at the existing structure and dismantling traditional silos and operational methods to enable and empower employees. It also needs to consider the sophisticated interplay of workspace,
technology and culture to create a positive employee experience, to enable flexibility and improve talent retention.
And this requires shifts in how people think, how they behave and interact with one another and what they do and deliver.
Let’s take a closer look at these dimensions:
Shift in mindset - how you think
An adaptive mindset underpins our capability to be truly agile in what we do and deliver. It’s a way of thinking that is nimble, open to all possibilities, learning and new ways. It evolves and adapts to meet ambiguity and challenges in a fast changing environment. A person with this mindset explores new possibilities with intense curiosity. It’s a shift from what we know as a fixed mindset to a growth and learning mindset.
Shift in behaviours - how you act
Agile behaviours at a team, and individual level, can be broadly described as ones that rely on collaboration, transparency, honesty, willingness to work outside their area of expertise, adaptability and openness to feedback so they can continuously improve their practices.
The behaviours are underpinned by the mindset, with all team members modelling adaptive thinking. They are comfortable adopting practices such as working out loud, enterprise social networking and visual management to further promote deep engagement and co-creation.
New practices - what you do and deliver
To actually apply new ways of working is to bring together the agile mindset and behaviours and draw on Agile software development approaches. Agile practices work best when the team members demonstrate agile behaviours and thinking. You don’t need to be working on a project that’s officially declared ‘Agile’ to apply and reap the benefits of collaborative and transparent practices such as Kanban and stand-up meetings.
And, of course to embed these new ways into the organisational culture, the leaders need to model and reward the behaviours they want to see, recruit the right people, and gather and retell success stories.
It’s now likely that we’ll find ourselves in workplaces that are transforming to new or agile ways of working. In our adaptation, there is a compelling need to demonstrate agility in our mindset, behaviours and practice.
It’s time to make sense of what this really means, not just for leaders, but for all employees, so we can play a meaningful role to support and continue to create the future of work.
More about making NWoW happen NOW
Whilst each industry type has its challenges and nuances, we know that external disruptive forces exclude no organisation. For example, the IQ Group, Consultants to the Superannuation Industry, has recognised that their sector is being impacted by external factors such as legislative changes, cybersecurity, automation, and the customer experience, not to mentioned unforeseen events.
To make NWoW happen NOW, I’m delighted to partner with the IQ Group to run workshops on Hacking for Agile Change. There’s a half day workshop for senior executives, and a full day immersion session for leaders and practitioners working in Superannuation and Wealth Management Services. Everyone is welcome to join us at these public workshops with more details here.