Sunday, August 9, 2009

Agile Encourages the Kind of Employee Companies Claim They Want

I've used the title of this post in talking to managers about agile on several occasions as I believe this is just what an agile approach does. The values and principles of Agile methods encourage the kind of attitudes and behaviors that most organization's want.

These include, but are not limited to

1) Personal responsibility for one's actions and integrity in day-to-day interactions;
3) Visibility into and openness regarding the status of work;
4) Collaborative relationships and effective communication within and between teams;
6) Self-direction and initiative in organizing work and handling issues;
7) Continuous improvement (in skills and process);
8) A quality focus and dedication to provide business/customer value.

If an agile approach is effectively pursued, an organization will see people adopting such attitudes and behaviors. Those who do not will not be successful in an agile environment.

Perhaps the best part of an agile approach, is that, within a relatively short time (usually no more than 3-5 iterations of effort), it will be clear who seems willing and able to adopt such attitudes and behaviors and who is/can not.

This is not to say that in this time frame, everyone who wants to will have succeeded in demonstrating such results. But it should be clear who really feels comfortable with and wants such "culture" change in the organization.

For this reason, I would think any organization who is truly serious about having the kinds of employees they say they want would give an agile approach serious consideration.


  1. It's not just that Agile encourages the kind of employees that companies say they want. Sometimes, what companies say is merely what they think they're supposed to say. But there are direct benefits in the employee behavior (such as loyalty and employee retention), also. See my recent blog posting for more on this.

  2. Thanks George...

    George makes this important point in his blog:

    "People want to do well for you. Give them an opportunity and an environment where they can do so."

    For me, an agile approach is a very good step toward that kind of environment. I think the behaviors companies say they want and the direct benefits they, for sure, want feed one another through having the environment, as George says.

    The right environment will allow the behaviors to develop and the people will respond to being able to display those behaviors with the loyalty, leading to retention, that the company wants.