Read the Agile HR Manifesto

Agile is basically a way of thinking about how organisations should behave in a complex, changing world. Advocating more flexibility and adaptability, working in short feedback loops, independence and transparency increase learning and generate more value for the customer.

More and more organisations now also see the value of applying an agile mindset in HR, both in their internal work and, perhaps above all, in the way in which an HR department can help support ease of mobility within an organisation. Whereas traditional processes focus on management and control, the role of an agile HR department is to generate value and support unique needs.

What specific actions can HR take to begin working in a different way? Two elements must be present: method and mindset. We need to change the way we work internally in HR in the traditional HR processes. Basically, it is a question of thinking in terms of new values that generate more value for the customer and a climate of greater cooperation. However, it is also about working more efficiently using the right tools and methods that support agile values.

So where do these agile values come from? An Agile Manifesto was drawn up in 2001 by a number of consultants and prominent figures in the IT industry. They had experienced a great many failed projects and so they decided to meet and discuss what could be done about it. That legendary meeting in Snowbird, Utah, led to a number of principles that could be applied  to change and improve the results of IT projects and lead to more satisfied customers and happier development teams. The basic principles were as follows:

  • Value individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Value working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Value customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Value responding to change over following a plan

Although there is value on the right-hand side, there is more value on the left-hand side. 12 principles were developed for carrying out development work. We have developed an Agile HR Manifesto that is based on the Agile Manifesto created in Snowbird – only it applies to HR rather than IT.

The Agile Manifesto for HR contains 12 principles that we should bear in mind when we work in an agile way in HR:

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy customers by early, continuous provision of high-value HR deliverables (customers = managers, employees and external customers)
  • Welcome changing requirements, including late in the development process or project
  • Deliver (HR programmes, tools, services) frequently, the more often the better
  • In HR projects, HR should work with operational managers, other departments and employees (cross-departmental teams) on a daily basis throughout the project
  • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and the support they need and trust them to do their job
  • Face-to-face communication is the best and most efficient way to exchange information. Both to and within the HR team
  • Working HR programmes, tools and services are the primary measure of development
  • Agile methods focus on endurance and develop at a constant, steady rate
  • Continuous attention to high quality and good design increases the ability to adapt.
  • Simplicity – the art of maximising the amount of work that is not done – is important
  • The best architecture in HR deliverables arises out of the self-organising team
  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how it can be more effective and adapts its behaviour accordingly