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Talent development strategy drives the agile business

Enabling a new type of organization: one designed around highly nimble and responsive talent.


As the world becomes increasingly volatile and unpredictable, organizations that are agile will outpace their competitors. To become a critical driver of agility, HR must fundamentally reshape itself to enable a new type of organization—one designed around highly nimble and responsive talent.

HR professionals of the future will be dedicated to helping their organizations fluidly find and mobilize resources around business issues—wherever those resources may be—and motivate people to adapt to change and perform at their best. To achieve this, HR organizations will need to restructure their mission and mandate, reshape roles and responsibilities within HR, redefine business and talent management practices, and support enabling technology platforms.

Once organizations develop agility and entrepreneurial behaviors, they will be able to more flexibly respond to rapidly changing market conditions or customer demands to outperform the competition.

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As organizations strive to become more agile, they will transform everything to become more responsive and nimble – including their strategy, leadership, organizational structures, marketing efforts, operations and financial processes.

But agile organizations won’t just depend on just a few decision makers at the top to become more nimble. Rather, they will count on their entire workforce, those within and even beyond their borders, to fluidly and proactively respond to change. Thus talent – and the HR function that is primarily responsible for managing it – will play a central role in driving organizational agility.

To become truly agile, organizations will need to be able to rapidly assemble and reassemble employees in teams based on changing business needs. And they will need flexible, agile workers who can problem solve and experiment to drive performance improvement and innovation, and who are capable of constant learning to develop new skills. In addition, workers will need to be armed with skills that enable them to be change capable, as change management becomes less of a bolt-on activity driven by HR and more of an embedded capability in all workers.

Key Findings

To meet its new mission and mandate, HR will have to embrace some imperatives that it has traditionally not strongly emphasized, such as:

  • Foster internal and external worker mobility.

  • Help discover and broker unknown talent.

  • Help build an adaptive, ethical and empowered culture.

  • Apply science and fact-based analytics.

  • Develop a learning organization.

In addition, HR will need to fundamentally redefine jobs and career paths so that people can more flexibly change the activities they perform based on the needs of the business and the mix of skills it requires. Since nearly all HR practices – including compensation, career development, rewards, training, and performance appraisal – are tied to narrowly defined job descriptions, most other talent management practices may need to be reshaped as well. For instance, organizations may have to restructure feedback systems so employees have ongoing, daily input on the unique and changing tasks they’re performing.


As agility becomes the new mantra of business, organizations will reshape themselves so that they can fluidly pull resources when and where they’re needed to rapidly respond to changing business conditions. HR organizations of the future will have to reinvent themselves—and the HR and talent management practices they support—to drive agility in their organization. Those that fail to do so may put their organizations at risk of obsolescence.