Agile HR Series: Is Agile transferable to Human Resources?

I was delighted to have been asked to talk about my journey into AgileHR at the Agile Lean Ireland event in Croke Park in Dublin in April. Despite overwhelming imposter syndrome talking about Agile to a room full of Product Owners and Scrum Masters, I was happy to see a connection being made with these experts by using language and terms which they were familiar. What was sad from my perspective was how few HR people were at the conference despite the HR focus. For those of us from HR who were there, it was a wake-up call.

As a long term HR professional I sat in awe as the giants of the Agile world such as Barry O’Reilly and Mary Poppendieck talked about applying agile principles to massive technology projects– and that these incredible achievements were less about the tools but the product of a people-centric mindset: teamwork, coaching, innovation, leadership, mentoring and facilitation. Surely, I thought to myself, this list of skills belongs on HR’s turf!

Well, I’m sorry fellow HR folks but while we have been hiding behind compliance, admin and working on yet another iteration of annual performance reviews the technology world has moved on without us, developing a set of people principles which is driving development in everything from AI to space rockets.

So how do we get back in the game? Have we missed the boat? Well, no. The good news is there is a quiet revolution going on in the HR world. The agile mindset is being applied to HR and is being driven by thought leaders in this area: the great Kevin Empey, Pia-Maria Thoren and Fabiola Eyholzer are evangelising the AgileHR message to enthusiastic audiences worldwide. It’s clear that despite being slow off the blocks, HR professionals have all the skills and competencies to be more than just bit players in the future of work – we can utilise our natural skills to bring strategic value to our businesses.

 

Over the next few articles, I am going to be talking about how you can quickly and easily begin to introduce Agile practices supercharge both your team’s performance and the perception of the people function within your organisation. Sounds good? Stay tuned.

James Ryan

Head of HR and Operational Development