Learning / Education Management / Strategy

Defining the agile enterprise and building agility through people

Note: The following was written by Pam Devine, customized learning solutions manager for the Business Learning Institute:


We have a saying here at the Business Learning Institute: L > C. That is, your L (learning) must be greater than or equal to your C (the rate of change).

In keeping with that philosophy, I had the privilege recently of attending the Bersin Impact 2012 Conference. The conference was attended by CLOs and high-level corporate learning professionals from the world’s largest global companies. The theme of this year’s conference was "Building Agility Through People," and the opening keynote given by Josh Bersin, president and CEO of Bersin and Associates, was inspiring.

Bersin & Associates is the premier global provider of world-class research, tools, and advisory services in talent management, corporate learning, leadership development, talent acquisition, and human resources.

In his opening remarks, Josh Bersin spoke about the "agile enterprise" and how the old way of doing things and old models will no longer work.

Wikipedia defines business agility as "the ability of a business to adapt rapidly and cost efficiently in response to changes in the business environment. Business agility can be maintained by maintaining and adapting goods and services to meet customer demands, adjusting to the changes in a business environment and taking advantage of human resources."

  • People need to be considered an appreciating asset.
  • Customers are now in charge.

In today’s fast-moving environment, all businesses must focus on speed, agility and customer focus. There will be a new model of management. The agile enterprise will consist of:

  • Highly connected, virtual teams.
  • Collaboration to meet customer needs rapidly.
  • Using data to make rapid customer focused decisions.

According to Pat Crull, CLO of Time Warner Cable and former CLO of MacDonalds, "In prior economic recoveries we have always rebuilt our organizations the way that we did before. This time is different. We are not going back. We are going to be leaner, quicker, and have to do more with less forever onward."

According to The Economist, CEOs define an agile organization as having these four components:

  1. Rapid decision making.
  2. A high performance culture.
  3. Flexible management of teams.
  4. Transparent availability of information.

We at The Business Learning Institute fit within these parameters. Does your organization? Are you training and treating people as an appreciating asset? Is your L > C? Are you customer focused? If not, how can you make changes to get there?


William D. Sheridan