Home' HR Monthly : June 2019 Contents 14
“ We then work on,
how do you argue
like you’re right,
but listen like
When you experiment with that process, the
practice becomes a default. The positive story
Importantly, the company experimented with
incentivising rewards. “ What we found was, if
you do it through rewards, you get really funky
behaviours. You end up monetising something
which should not be monetised. It’s like saying,
if you behave well, I’ll give you a $30 bottle of
wine – that’s a bit weird. Then if I buy my own
wine I don’t value that behaviour anymore?
The transaction becomes really obtuse.”
So there’s a workplace practice (sparring)
that is born out of, and maximised by, a
company policy (diversity) and grown through
a recognition program (storytelling). But the
crucial lesson here is the unfixed, yet contingent
nature of the practice. B ecause when business
leaders hear something like this, they might be
inclined to think they can just plug it in.
“The danger is we’ve got a whole lot of
companies saying, ‘ We want to be like Spotify,
we want to be like Netflix’. And I tell them, you
don’t want to be like Netflix.”
Price talks about the difference between a
company that wants to institute an agile policy
and one that adopts an agility philosophy.
Each organisation should look at models that
exemplify what they want to be, says Price,
but it then needs to build in its own way. A
bank isn’t going to get into the same business
as Atlassian, so it’s not useful for them to think
they can just “cut, copy and paste” a practice.
Often senior leaders find it difficult to adopt
an agile philosophy, as it’s not what got them
to where they are. Frequently it’s someone a bit
further down the rung that becomes a ‘member
of the movement’.
“It's someone who has bought into the
purpose of the organisation but is dissatisfied
with how it’s going about it. So they're not
disgruntled about the people or the place.
They just feel like there's more barriers and
blockers than amplifiers. And they sort of wake
up one day and decide that instead of being a
victim and therefore part of the problem, they're
going to be part of the solution.”
Children of the evolution
This talk gets back to why the ‘movement’ is
a market solution to the changing nature of
work. It’s being driven by the business fear
of becoming the next Blockbuster or Kodak,
in a world where technology upends entire
industries and makes switching to more exciting
The way you avoid becoming a relic is
by being agile enough to change. And you
accomplish that by being agile all the way from
flagship product to job design. Think of it this
way, the only role that can never be automated
(or otherwise made redundant by technological
advances) is one that is completely adaptable
and free to change. One that has a guiding
principle rather than a set of tasks.
Price finds the philosophy tricky to explain
because it is a philosophy and not a process.
Businesses find it hard to adopt because
it’s outside the classic understanding. Most
companies would prefer to hire a transformation
team and complete a years-long plan.
“This is a really hard one to get your head
around: there isn't an end state. A nd it's funny
because most organisations, certainly a heritage
organisation that have been around for a while,
work on long term plans, right? And in a time
where the business world was going through a
low rate of change, having a 10 year plan made
sense. In a modern environment with the rate
of innovation and change we have now, 10 year
plans are a waste of time.”
Price teaches evolution over transformation
and tells leaders, “The new way of leading is
leading your organisation through volatility...
so how do you manage that? Not with large 24
month programs, but with a mission that you
believe in, a long term mission and vision. A nd
then lots more projects and teams and activity.
And learning along the way.”
There are non-market answers to the changing
nature of work. Australia’s industrial relations
system is, compared to other developed
countries, doing an okay job of balancing
employer and worker interests (though wage
stagnation suggests it has tipped in the former’s
favour). But it is also clunky; legislatively tied
to an older conception of work. How many
Awards are prepared for ex tensive automation?
There are also answers at the education level.
There’s been increasing concern that Australians
are graduating unready for the type of work
they encounter, they lack core skills (so called
‘soft skills’) and the theory they are taught isn’t
as linked with practice as it needs to be.
“My sense is our education system – and
community, work and economic systems – have
trained humans to be like robots for the last 60
years. And we need to quit thinking like that.’”
The advantage of solving things with agile
philosophies is that it fits with how ou r society
is currently structured. It’s not a total solution
right now – it’s still very skewed to well paid
knowledge workers – but it is a solution that is
already being actioned.
24/5/19 1:04 pm
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