Monday, July 20, 2015

People Centric Approach for Agile Success

Management to practice agile philosophy focuses on WHAT - the ultimate business goals, less on task management in self-management setting.

Digital is the age of people. Many organizations are in the journey for digital transformation from “doing Agile” to “being Agile.” From talent management perspective, what are the ingredients of success in Agile? Are companies investing wisely in human resource or the better term, human capital, a key if not the only ingredient required to succeed in applying Agile philosophy and methodology?

In order to have an attainable Agile approach, you need to consider people as a focal point. People are always the most critical element for any business success, and more often the weakest link as well. In Agile circumstances, people should be able to unlearn what is not working, eager to learn new things, willing and be able to communicate and collaborate, have passion for what they do etc. Of course, this needs to be supported with people focused organizational culture and appropriate reward and recognition policies, which encourages teamwork. Can you identify, attract, grow and retain the people you need? What must you change if you are to get better at all four steps? Will you need to change your approach to get a better match with the people you can get? Hiring and investing in the right kind of people is critical to the success of Agile. So often, organizations fail at that first step, of being unable to identify the people they need. This could be a failure to identify the needs, or a failure to identify who can meet them. Failure of either of these doesn't work well for the future of the organization.

The approach needs to be appropriate to the context. You might achieve people-centricity by modifying the traditional talent management approach or modifying the context. To be appropriate, it needs to be adequate to deliver what is needed, attainable (we have, or can get in a timely manner, the people to enact it), and for any candidate approaches that meet the first two criteria, you should select the most efficient. Whether you succeed by working with the people you have or by hiring people perceived to have higher skills immediately is a business decision. The Agile team and its processes are part of the business. The decision will define your company culture. Whichever path you choose can be approached iteratively and the results evaluated.

The leadership skills are needed to coach the team towards self-organization. Any company that is "investing in a human resource" is never really going to be agile. People are not "resources," more as a great investment. One of its main problems is that the decision makers are often those same people who feel threatened by "giving up" all of their accumulated hierarchical system interests. There is the risk that you will be stuck with the team you got given, which will include individuals not ready to self-organize, not prepared to respect other team members, and not inclined to learn how to do these things. To self- organize adequately, you need the right mind with learning agility, all the skills and knowledge needed to do the work that you do. It is natural that the self organization takes time and it requires a great degree of leadership to handhold them. In many organizations there is the risk that the external hierarchy will cherry-pick the good people from your team to populate their hierarchy; you can lose your architectural and managerial skills disproportionately if this is allowed to happen. It is important to continuously adjust your strategy and approach to manage talent cycle proactively.

Management to practice agile philosophy focuses on WHAT - the ultimate business goals, less on task management in self-management setting. The intention of people-centric talent management approach is to improve employee engagement, encourage innovation, enable learning agility, enforce communication, and drive organizational level agility and maturity.


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