Annual Conference 2018: HR's role in creating organisation agility: becoming change-smart in a fast-moving world

Past HR Network Conference

11 October 2018

Event resources

View the slides (for HR Network members)


Leading for agility
David Pendleton, Professor in Leadership, Henley Business School

Building the agile organisation
Linda Holbeche, Adjunct Professor, Imperial College London

Workforce planning to support business agility
Wendy Hirsh, Principal Associate, IES

Developing change-ready, change-capable organisations
Alison Carter, Principal Research Fellow, IES

Agility & Strategic Edge Through People 2040
Carol Cooper-Chapman, Senior Principal Psychologist, Dstl, Ministry of Defence

What should HR be doing to create organisation agility?
Stephen Bevan, Director, Employer Research and Consultancy, IES


Change capability in the agile organisation, HR Network Paper 139, IES Perspectives on HR 2018
Alison Carter and Sharon Varney

Strategic change-readiness for organisations, HR Network Paper 134, IES Perspectives on HR 2017
Alison Carter

Change topics covered at this conference included:

  • readiness;
  • capability;

  • culture;

  • leadership development;

  • transformation;

  • visioning; and

  • the role of HR.


Stephen Bevan, Director, Employer Research and Consultancy, IES


Carol Cooper-Chapman, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Ministry of Defence

Alison Carter, Principal Research Fellow, IES

Linda Holbeche, Adjunct Professor, Imperial College and Honorary Fellow, IES

Wendy Hirsh, Principal Associate, IES

David Pendleton, Professor in Leadership, Henley Business School

Event details

In an increasingly complex, unpredictable operating environment, many organisations feel ill-equipped to act swiftly as both planned and unexpected situations arise.

There is an alternative: agile organisations. And the good news is; they can be built.

Agile, adaptive organisations are resilient, learning-orientated, change-ready and change-able. Delegates at our 2018 annual conference benefited from practical experience of building an agile organisation, learning secrets from leading researchers and thoughtful practitioners.  

We know from research that strategic changes often fail to embed because of the people dimension, and that for effective transformation, the ‘new order’ needs to be accepted by employees at all levels. For a team that isn’t change-ready and fails to adapt, resistance can stop strategic objectives before they start.

Improving change capability is not just about great leadership, although developing leaders to rise to the challenge of building agility is an important factor. HR functions are central to creating the right conditions for change-readiness, considering learning implications, flexing policies and processes and the cultivation of a workplace culture where employees embrace change.