On 31st March 2022 Jon Sasserath, Orbbis and Marian O’Brien, Project X Partners hosted a virtual, interactive roundtable on the subject of Agile working & leading with an Agile mindset.

Business leaders from across the UK shared their journey, challenges & successes, and the group listened to Orbbis and Project X Partners discuss how they support their clients to apply Agile values, principles and methodologies to enable the people-side of change & transformation.


“Success today requires the agility & drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react and reinvent.”  Bill Gates, Co-founder Microsoft

This short video by Gerd Leonhard centres on this topic, and its context for the challenges being faced by business today and into the future.


Drivers for today’s demand for agile working include globalisation, digitisation, automation, sustainability, increased expectation around client response times & their involvement. The world today is much more complex and volatile, and organisations who succeed through this change have responded and adapted at pace and with agility.

When many discuss agile working, instinctively the focus is on technology & software development, Start-Ups and Fintechs and more recently it has been linked with flexible hours, hot-desking & home working.   Agile transcends further than this; it is multi-dimensional, covering mindset, people, leadership, process, ways of working, culture & communication, and when executed well it will span all business functions as a complete ecosystem  in support of client needs.

Agile working embraces both the physical and digital “workplace” in empowering and supporting people to work where, when and how they choose to, to maximise their productivity, innovation & ultimately deliver best value to the organisation. It is not a prescriptive process and there is no one size fits all.

Unilever state that agile working is “an approach to getting work done with maximum flexibility and minimum constraints.” Agile working is about bringing people, processes, connectivity & technology, time & place together to find the most appropriate and effective way of working to carry out a particular task. It is working within guidelines of the task, but without boundaries around how it is achieved.

Every agile project must have a clear purpose, with all stakeholders aligned on that purpose. It is also vital to know who is driving the purpose – it could be the business founder, the organisation, shareholders, or the client / customer.  In almost every case of a successful transformation project, the purpose has been driven by the client / customer, and the purpose is driven by clear data and facts which are measurable.  This evidence will not always look at financial performance; in agile culture performance around other areas including engagement, diversity, sustainability, attraction & retention, amongst many other non-revenue focused areas, will be drawn into focus.

In a true agile culture a ‘pilot & experiment’ approach is actively encouraged; making mistakes is ok as long as learning follows.  We should seek discovery before answers, and everyone from the C-suite, to the team to clients & customers should be involved in this phase. Hierarchy is removed, replaced with collaboration and a fresh review of skills & ability. Leaders embrace learning & development and empower their people, and most importantly they get out of their way to enable progress. In an agile culture the leader takes the position of ‘conductor’, no longer required to be the subject matter expert, they provide leadership and guidance but they are not expected to know how to play every instrument.

From a people perspective of agile working, there is a clear shift towards a ‘human-centric’ culture, enabling individuals to be vulnerable, offering the psychological safety to share and learn from failure.  Enabling true authenticity, cultural cultivation allows people to bring their ‘whole self’ to work.

Agile working can be perceived as chaotic, but if executed well, agile working is disciplined; it includes a hypothesis and risk is measured. When control is removed and replaced with agility of thought, true change and transformation can happen.

However, for many organisations the main barriers to agile working revolve around culture and mindset. Simply buying new technology and investing in new workspaces are not enough. Engaging with your workforce, empowering people in a relationship of trust and responsibility and a close look at training workflows are the key. A ‘human focused’ culture is absolutely key, and transparency about where you are as a business with this value during the attraction and retention of talent is vital.

The goal of agile working is to create a more responsive, efficient, and effective organisation based on more balanced, motivated, innovative and productive teams and individuals. These are essential ingredients in surviving and thriving in the challenging global world in which we operate today.


Orbbis deliver management consultancy through industry experts.  Using the expertise and insights that our Orbbis Partners have built up, we create high-value, cost effective solutions to drive sustainable change and transformation across all business lines.

If you would like to attend our next webinar, or learn more about developing and implementing agile working initiatives to achieve true business change & transformation, you can get in touch here.