During a conversation with my colleague Pablo Pernot, he suggested I have a look at Agile Fluency and transpose the model to a human resources structure.
Here are a few key aspects of this HR Fluency framework.
- What does Agile Fluency mean?
The word fluency carries with it a sense of ease. You’re at ease when you perfectly master a movement, a technique, a particular skill, etc. Your brain creates automatic reflexes for actions you’ve repeated enough times for them to become rooted. For example, when you walk, you unconsciously put one foot in front of the other, without looking down at the ground. But this does take a hundred toddler falls before this reflex becomes automatic. The bottom line is that you need to practice techniques regularly if you don’t want to lose them. If you stopped walking for a few months, physiotherapy would teach you basic movements to create those automatic reflexes again.
Agile Fluency is about investing effort in order to lastingly establish a particular skill, develop flexibility and give meaning to our actions.
- We’re definitely becoming less and less patient—it’s time for a reality check.
Digitalization and immediate access to everything does anything but encourage us to take the time to stop and smell the roses. Staying in our own bubble, on our phones especially, is making us more and more individualistic. It seems that enjoying the small things in life has become something of a struggle.
Agile Fluency stimulates reflection and sharing within an organization. It sparks engagement among teams, who bring about transformation by defining goals to be achieved and identifying what needs to be done to get there.
- Behind any result lies some sort of investment
To reach a goal, you must set yourself a target. And the targets you set must match identified needs. Let’s say I want to become a famous athlete. If my aim is to reach nationals, I’ll have to train every day, follow a specific diet, etc. I’d therefore have to quit my current job. I won’t be able to reach my goal if I don’t train properly. I’m therefore going to invest 100% of my time in trying to reach my goal.
If however, I only wanted to participate in high-level competitions, without necessarily reaching professional level, I could simply join training clubs or work part-time and go semi-professional. So, I have to define where I want to take my ambition: professional, semi-professional or amateur level. I need to set myself a “destination”. It doesn’t matter if you’re aiming for several destinations at the same time, as with my example about going semi-professional (combining athletic and non-athletic professional goals). What matters is that you keep your target in sight.
Take payroll for example. You can very well be in a non-Agile environment, outsource payroll through an external firm, and have a special internal department for employees to submit pay-related questions to if necessary.
This blends both a non-Agile destination (using an external firm) and a Focus on Value destination (through the specialized on-site department).
- Finding out which HR practices you’re not looking to acquire, those you have acquired (and that you’re “fluent” in), and those it would be in your interest to acquire
Once you’ve established where you want to go regarding your various projects, you have to identify the practices to acquire in order to get there. Whether alone or as a team, review your list of tasks. Do you need to cut out a step in your hiring process to attract new candidates? Maybe you need to take a different approach to sourcing? In any case, it’s always useful to take some time to re-evaluate working methods in order to achieve your new goals.
Agile Fluency contributes to an in-depth thought process on practices and visions. Now let’s move on to HR Fluency destinations.
Pablo and I came up with 4 destinations that we thought linked the Agile model to HR quite nicely. These destinations are identifiable even if you’re not Agile-proficient, and they can be achieved by everyone. They will give you an idea of where you stand and where you want to head. [Note: the term “identity” in the sections below could equally have been replaced by the terms “culture” and “employer brand”.]
- Destination #1: No identity/Not Agile
The organization’s activities aren’t associated with any particular value and tasks are completed in a timely manner.
Key concepts: command of legal and social aspects; sourcing for short-term needs. (E.g.: admin, hiring statements, probation period reviews, payroll, etc.)
Turning factor: birth of an identity
- Destination #2: Identity known/Focus on Value – Linked to the Kanban and Scrum methods
You’ve found a joint identity and you’re looking to unite around it. Your activities deliver value.
Key concepts: hiring, values, internal employer brand. (E.g.: first-month performance reviews, gamified hiring, job fairs, etc.)
Turning factor: living the identity
- Destination #3: Identity: experienced and shared/Deliver Value (and with quality) – Linked to the Craft system
Employees experience this identity and it is constantly present and spread throughout the organization.
Key concepts: loyalty building, fulfillment, internal and external employer brand. (E.g.: employee coaching every four months, co-creation events (like beNext’s Creative Open Moments, or beCom), autonomous circles, etc.)
Turning factor: Identity is taken beyond individual and entity levels.
- Destination #4: Identity wholeness/Optimize Value (in its broad sense) – Linked to the Lean Startup and Design Thinking methods
Identity is shared beyond the organization.
Key concepts: no more borders, no more limits, wholeness. (E.g.: personal blog articles on employer brand, external sharing of best practices, autonomous circles (six-person delegation boards), PO schools (as per beNext’s School of PO), etc.)
Once you’ve defined your destinations, it’s time to push for optimization. Which destinations do you want to head towards? Remember, one activity or sector can be assigned to several destinations.
The table of practices below provides insight into how the HR Fluency framework works. It offers a smart and convenient way of evaluating the current status of your identity and culture. You can specify which practices you don’t want to acquire, and why. The contents of this column will also be an indicator of your identity and of where you want to take it.
|Unwanted||HR Fluency Destinations||To be acquired||In the process of being acquired||Acquired|
|No identity||Practice | Practice||Practice
|Payroll | Vacancy management | Practice | Practice | Practice|
|practice||Identity known||Practice | Academic institution relations||Moving Motivators during job interviews | Employee performance appraisals | Practice||Moving motivators during job interviews | New arrivals announcements|
|Identity shared||Practice | Practice | State of mind onboarding||Merit money | Holacratic circles | Co-optation sourcing||Communication process mastered by all | Public meetups|
|Wholeness||Blog strategy | Practice | Practice||Meetup hosting | Meetups (co-organized with external organizations)|
You can also add “Success criteria” and “Advantages” columns if you wish.
Draw up a list of practices that have been taken on by your HR department (and practices in other departments that are related to company identity and experience). This gives you an idea of which practices come up often and what their attributed status is (“in the process of being acquired”, “acquired”, etc.).
Where to position each practice?
It’s not that easy to position the right practices in the right grid space. It is therefore crucial to have a harmonized vision of each practice, including relating to aspects such as investment, meaning and acquired advantages. Recruiting can take many different forms. Is it associated with some kind of candidate experience, or is it just a necessary process to fill a position? Was it requested by a department other than the HR department?
Defining “in the process of being acquired” and “acquired”
It takes time and practice to finally be able to enjoy the fruits of investment. Acquiring just one “practice” won’t be enough to get you to a destination. Just as speaking a language and establishing communication requires a certain number of words (or density).
HR Fluency guides you through the changes your organization is undergoing and encourages you to sharpen your consideration of daily practices, to confer meaning on them and define where you’d like to position them in the future.