After the now-famous meeting of the 17 people who would build the Agile Manifesto in 2001, their revolutionary ideas have infiltrated not just the world of software development, but also all facets of business organization, human resources, and corporate culture. How has culture and management improved since the advent of Agile, and how can you use the Agile Manifesto to improve your workplace culture?
The Agile Manifesto was originally developed to replace the wasted time of the ‘waterfall’ software management system. Basically, its authors wanted to cut through the red tape and endless documentation and bring accountability to managers and developers alike so they could all contribute to the revered and emphasized ‘user experience.’
Over time, Agile ideas have been applied to management styles, with the ‘user’ in the Agile equation becoming ‘the managed’ in an HR context.
Making Corporate Culture Agile
That’s a misleading subheading because there is no way to make corporate culture ‘Agile.’ Instead, business leaders and managers have used Agile principles to improve their culture and spread accountability, trust, open communication, and camaraderie to all workers.
One Agile principle is responding to change as it comes, rather than blindly following a documented plan from start to finish. Agile’s inventors didn’t want developers and managers constantly improvising like jazz musicians, but they did want them to be light on their feet (Agile, get it?) and able to respond when unforeseen factors invariably bomb their well laid-out plans.
In an HR setting or from a manager’s point of view, ‘responding to change’ means adapting to workers and meeting their needs. Game plans are needed, too, but managers have to possess the power to shift and adapt to help their employees with unforeseen problems. An open door policy is the first step to this ideal; a thriving, open community built on long-standing trust and open communications is the Agile management dream.
Agile for the Changing Office Culture
The workforce is changing. Industries are changing, people are changing, and with them, corporate culture is changing in boardrooms, offices, factories, and warehouses all over the world. Agile was shrewdly built for change, and managers have started to create systems for themselves to respond to their changing workforces.
Perhaps the most important principle introduced in the Agile Manifesto is building projects around motivated people. Instead of building projects around who’s at the top of an arbitrary office hierarchy, projects are now being assigned to the people most likely to succeed in their execution. Teams are more fluid and self-organizing—another key Agile principle—allowing a freer exchange of work and ideas among the workforce.
Corporate Culture Improved
People need leaders. Managers have to keep their workers on track, and some aspects of the old methods of software development and management are still useful today, but managers can take several pages out of the Agile Manifesto and use its principles to create a motivated, efficient team.
At its core, Agile is all about the people. Without motivated teams willing to hold each other accountable and work together, software development wouldn’t be what it is today, and neither would HR.