It’s agility on the inside that counts

With technology and enterprise evolving rapidly, it’s almost impossible to predict how business will be conducted a decade from now. In this climate, it’s simply not enough to be reactive to new tools and technologies; staying relevant requires a culture of agility across the entire workforce.

This needs to extend throughout each company’s value ecosystem, open to modifications across supply chains and business partnerships. But, unfortunately, there is a continuing shortage of talent able to deliver such agile initiatives.

“The challenge of ensuring the availability of the right capability and capacity, at the right time, is different for agile initiatives,” says James Fowler, director at Match Performance, a company that has thrived at the forefront of change management for more than 20 years. “The type of people needed is different in each case and the fast-paced, highly interactive approaches of agile delivery require people with different interpersonal skills.”

As a specialist service under the Proteus Group umbrella, Match Performance leverages consultancy skills, technology and an extensive network to enhance organisations’ change management agendas.

Mr Fowler emphasises how difficult this is for businesses amid the iterative, incremental nature of agile and the uncertainty that comes with it.

“Resources may work across multiple sprints and initiatives, utilisation becomes more complex to measure and manage, and demand can’t be predicted as far ahead,” he says. “We continue to see organisations becoming frustrated and constrained by traditional staffing models, which are no longer fulfilling many of their business needs, and thus they are looking for innovative solutions to compete in their sector.

“Rigid human resources processes and policies can constrain flexibility in a rapidly changing world, while hiring talent becomes a slow process. This goes against the millennial mentality, which is famous for its pursuit of flexibility and fulfilment.”

Designing organisations for agility Mr Fowler deduces that if demand can’t be predicted as far forward, then the answer lies in the speed of supply, by bringing suppliers closer to companies’ resource planning, availability and utilisation processes.

“It’s essential that organisation start taking a holistic approach of ‘matching’ talent to roles, not just skillset matching, but based around knowledge, experience and personality traits,” he explains. “Companies need to work with clients to develop a much better understanding of the role, levels of complexity, key characteristics, cultural imperatives and so on to understand where a candidate matches and, critically, where they don’t.”

We work with organisations that have to amend strategies according to an ever-changing landscape where traditional approaches are no longer viable

Executives now need to design their organisations for agility, offering alternative career paths and compensation that directly reward value creation, placing individuals in an environment which allows them to operate in teams forming and disbanding as required.

It’s a tough step that usually requires guidance and, to this end, Match Performance’s status as the only company to use data-based software solutions to identify the right talent with agile at its core has become vital.

“Match completes several stages for all talent, thereby allowing us to respond to clients with maximum agility,” Mr Fowler says. “We work with organisations that have to amend strategies according to an ever-changing landscape where traditional approaches are no longer viable.

“Having a consulting partner such as Match allows clients to be able to flex and scale resources to handle lower or higher volumes of work. This means their cost structure can move up or down to meet the needs and expectations of the new normal when it comes to work levels.”

Those organisations that have, alongside Match, successfully implemented a talent agility strategy are able to deliver change at pace, driving flexible change from the inside in response to the competitive and sometimes hostile outside world.

“Moving forward, enterprise agility will drive a realisation that all levels of an organisation need to ‘be’ agile through their structure and ‘do’ agile through their product development,” Mr Fowler concludes. “For this you need the right mindset and company DNA for the right skills and toolkits to work effectively.”

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