business balance and agility
ATD Blog

One Thing TD Execs Should Do Right Now: Be Agile

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

One of the most commonly cited effects of the pandemic is “acceleration.” Market shifts, societal trends, digitalization, and changing business models are cited as having been accelerated in these unprecedented times. Even before the pandemic, the time organizations had to react to world events was growing shorter.

One accelerated trend is the growing recognition of the critical role that talent development plays in enabling organizations to be flexible and resilient. Demands on talent development (TD) are shifting quickly and continuously. We have to be agile.

Take Initiative

TD leaders often think that agility means we cannot wait for direction. We must be proactive, as do the people on our team. We must think like leaders of the business and act when we see something that needs to be done.

Take Risk

Agility requires us to try new things. We must always look for quicker and better ways to solve problems and pursue our strategic goals. The disruption we are in can often reveal new opportunities and show us new resources that we can leverage.


Even if everything in your plan that was important before remains so, some of it may no longer be important to do right now. Focus on the important and urgent and shift accordingly. The time and costs you have already sunk into a project may not be reason enough to make it a priority.

Fast Track

This may not be the time to take the ideal approach. If the need is urgent (for situations like remote leader effectiveness, virtual onboarding, self-directed career pathing, and so on), look for ways to move faster. Perhaps that means buying instead of building. Maybe you can take a plug and play approach by repurposing modules from existing programs to address new audiences and new needs. As is said, do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

By taking initiative, embracing sensible risk, rethinking priorities, and getting on the fast track, we can simplify to amplify—that is, we can focus on the core, the most important, the immediate burning platform needs and address them quickly. That guarantees a bigger impact on the business and the careers of the people in it. And if we are truly being agile, we will reassess our efforts and shift as the situation demands.

For a deeper discussion, join me September 11 for the webcast, The One Thing Talent Development Should Do Right Now. Along with Eivind Slaaen, Lou Tedrick, and John Cone', we'll explore how to revisit your talent development agenda and rethink your value proposition.

About the Author

Michelle Braden is chief learning officer and vice president of global learning and talent management at WEX.

Braden is passionate about L&D—and about using her business savvy and leadership expertise to look beyond typical adult learning strategies and toward innovative talent development approaches that drive true business impact. She is laser-focused on enabling WEX team members to grow as individuals and professionals in their careers while delivering upon business goals and providing world-class services and solutions in the financial technology industry.

Braden recently left TELUS International after serving as its CLO and vice president of global learning excellence for 6.5 years. There, along with her globally based team, she built a multi-award-winning learning strategy, which fundamentally changed how the organization built and maintained a robust leadership pipeline to support its fast growth while providing team members with a comprehensive learning journey throughout their career with the company.

With 25 years of successful management experience in and around leadership and talent development, instructional design and development, information technology, and sales in companies that include Xerox and SAP, Braden understands the impact that proficient and fulfilled employees have on engagement, attrition, and business performance.

She has an MBA with a leadership specialty and a BA in management/communication with a minor in information technology.

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