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 is a multi-award-winning Learning & Development executive focused on driving true business impact through innovative talent development initiatives. With over 25 years of experience in the sales, IT, business leadership, and HR roles at large enterprises such as SAP, TELUS, and Xerox, Michelle joined WEX, a global leader in financial technology solutions, in 2019. Since joining, she has successfully transformed learning and changed her organization’s mindset from using learning as a tool to “fix” problem employees to an advantage in recruiting, developing, and maintaining high potential employees.

Michelle is a member of CTDO Next, the Association for Talent Development’s exclusive group of top talent development executives shaping the future of the profession, and authored a chapter, “Doing More with Less,” in Forward-Focused Learning, edited by Tamar Elkeles and published by ATD Press in 2020. She also serves on ATD’s Senior Leader and Executive Board and the Reworked Digital Workplace Experience Board. She is continually asked to speak at industry events and write for industry publications. Recent awards include Chief Learning Officer’s Gold Learning in Practice Trailblazer and Gold Strategy Awards in 2022, the 2022 and 2023 Top 50 OnCon Icon awards, 2023 Most Innovative Talent Development Leader by Slate Advisers, and Silver for 2023’s Stevie Awards HR Executive of the Year.

Michelle has an MBA, with a leadership and change specialty, and a BA in Management and Business Communication with a minor in Information Technology.

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