What is agile working?

Agile isn't a new concept – there is a long-standing view that agility enables organisations to be better equipped to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty. Surrey County Council (SCC) is focussing on all elements of the organisation in order to become an agile organisation.

At the heart of the agile organisation are some fundamental principles:

  • Outcomes driven
  • High trust
  • Adaptability
  • Strong sense of team
  • Common purpose
  • Learning mindset

There are nine pillars or characteristics that we focus on when talking about an agile organisation:

  1. Strategy: Teams have a clear and shared purpose that focuses on delivering outcomes. The strategy is able to flex and respond to changes in the organisational context and is outward looking.
  2. Leadership: Leaders are adaptable and empower their teams rather than being directive. Authenticity, emotional intelligence and inclusivity are key. Leaders in an agile organisation are able to balance the need for stability with the need to be agile.
  3. Culture: The culture in an agile organisation values collaboration, networking and diversity rather than siloed working. There is a high level of trust and accountability and a 'learning mindset' is encourage rather than a fear of failure.
  4. Performance management: Performance focuses on outcomes, results and impact rather than on presence or perception
  5. Concept of work: Work is about what you do rather than where you go. It is delivered through collaboration and cross-functional teams and is outcome focused.
  6. Resources: Resources and people are fluid and flexible and based around outcomes rather than structure and are often matrix-managed.
  7. Organisational model: Agile organisations have less hierarchical structure and are flatter and more flexible with a focus on outcomes. Multi-disciplinary teams enable agility and the ability to move at pace.
  8. Systems, technology and processes: Focus is on flexibility and adaptability. Should be intuitive and innovative and maximise on automation and technology.
  9. Workspaces: The space that people work in is flexible and open, encouraging collaboration rather than silo working. Workspaces are used in an agile way rather than as the default.

How we work in an agile way

There is often a misconception that 'agile working' is just about 'workspaces' - where people work however this is only one element. Working in an agile way, means that we need to think about:

  • Why we do what we do;
  • What we do;
  • How we do it;
  • Where we do it and
  • When we do it.

It is important that teams explore agile opportunities across all of the components of an agile organisation as they are all interdependent and of equal importance.

This information supports staff to consider how they work and where they work.