Adaptability and agility are not just buzzwords. Increasingly, an ‘Adaptable Business’ is a business that survives and thrives. Technology and connected data are perceived as key dependencies in building that adaptable model. But the work doesn’t stop there. If you want success at the end of the line, technological deployment must go hand in hand with an investment in people, developing an entrepreneurial and collaborative spirit. And that can’t happen without HR.
Our recent research with the Otto Beisheim School of Management found that tech investment must be supported by seven human and cultural factors to truly get results. Without them, tech only increases business efficiency by about 5% – nothing like the leap forward a competitive organisation needs.
And these factors rely on the stewardship of HR teams. This could mean exercises to help staff collaborate, working with managers to foster the right culture, or building new training and review initiatives. One thing is clear: HR teams are needed to ensure tech investment is supported by investment in people. That’s how we reach a bottom-line impact.
But what are these seven factors, and why do they matter?
- Critical thinking & open questioning: Nothing changes without someone questioning the status quo. Imagine if everyone felt safe and empowered to ask questions: how many problems could be avoided before they start? And how much could the business benefit from that extra, collective brainpower, and a workforce that’s more engaged than ever?
- Entrepreneurial culture: Building a ‘start-up style’ environment where everyone is encouraged to challenge norms gives you an edge. If your people are free to test ideas, and make fast, informed decisions, then they might reveal answers and possibilities that haven’t been considered before.
- Open communication & collaboration: Video conferencing and messaging services certainly help communication between different locations. But collaboration is even more valuable. Diverse teams can work together from anywhere in the world, if they have the right training and mindset. And knowledge can be shared freely, with teams openly asking for – and gratefully receiving – new ideas and inputs.
- Data-driven decision making: Better connectivity and smarter tools are connecting us to more and richer data – opening up new insights, efficiencies and possibilities. But only 38% of employees currently report that decision-making in their company is based on data. Replacing conventional wisdom or past experience with data can reduce risk while giving employees the confidence to speak their mind and make a call.
- Flexibility & embracing change: New technologies mean inevitable change, and the willingness to try doing things differently (whenever needed) is key to embracing and harnessing them. Flexible working is a classic example – if the business lets staff work anywhere, at the best time for them, then they can be more fulfilled and be their best at work.
- Learning culture: More change means more time learning new technologies, skills and processes. So make learning the norm. What if all staff dedicated time to learning something new every week – perhaps every day? How much faster could you test and implement new ideas?
- Shared digital vision: If everyone knows the company’s digital vision, and where you’re heading, then they can course-correct themselves. You could have an organisation where people keep themselves on the right, data-driven track, checking to make sure they’re pulling with the rest of the organisation – from the C-suite to the loading dock.
French company Vinci recognised the need for data-driven decisions in particular. The construction giant employs almost 195,000 people, in around 100 countries, and its employee data used to be spread across numerous systems. Now, Oracle’s HCM Cloud system pulls all of this data together to present a single point of reference for its HR managers. This allows them to gather complete, reliable insights on employees, finding the ideal candidates for new projects and discovering talent that might have been missed otherwise. This is the founding of an adaptable business that can then use the seven factors outlined above to complete its vision.