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Agile Talent and Transformation at the 2013 UK Agile Awards

The UK Agile Awards, now in its fourth year, is something that Yoh is proud to present. You can learn more about the awards at and we will be including some of the interviews from the winners and special guests here on the blog over the next coming weeks. Today, however, I’d like to focus on some of the observations from this year’s event.

The Empowerment of an Agile Method
Evident at the 2013 UK Agile Awards was the marked change in how the methodology is valued and viewed across the community at large. It has always been true that, no matter the flavor, Agile methods empower teams and individuals. This year, however, the attendees, nominees, and winners not only underscored the value of this empowerment but shared that the results gained through such empowerment have significant impact on not just the project where Agile is practiced but on the entire culture of the company. First time attendees to the awards representing ‘business ownership’ roles clearly indicated that for them, the strength of Agile was found not only in on time, target and budget product or service delivery, but also in the dramatic increase and detail of client and customer understanding.

Agile Changes Talent Acquisition Approach
I almost hesitate to include this observation, as it is simply too well aligned with Yoh services and what we do to generate our business, but because this sentiment was shared so frequently, it would be a mistake not to include. In both casual conversation with attendees and interviews with nominees and winners, a single talent acquisition theme emerged; as Agile takes root within a company and its culture, the way in which talent is acquired changes. Simply put, the process of sourcing new employees into a company using Agile methods must aggressively factor in the intangible aspects of each prospective new employee. The decision making uses standard job requirements and skills as a starting point, but the ultimate evaluation of new team members is based more upon the ability of the individual to communicate, collaborate, and respond to the seemingly endless feedback loop that is part of working in an Agile way. In fact, attendees shared that this reality is not only at the team level, but across every level of leadership. Most shared that the value and change that Agile can deliver is only as good as the company’s ability to create a talent acquisition process that enables appropriate level of ‘Agile-skill’ related evaluation.

Agile is Ultimately About People
Ultimately, Agile methods are exactly that, a method or process used to manage efforts that deliver product or service. So, while it may be Agile blasphemous to say this, there is nothing necessarily ‘new’ about Agile that doesn’t exist in other project management methods. . . with one single and critical exception. People. As a project management method, Agile does what other methods do not, it places the person centric. This is not to suggest that level of effort, reporting and management is less important, but that the contribution of the individual in the context of the entire scope of what is being delivered is far more critical to success. Time and again the 2013 UK Agile Awards attendees stressed that people are what make an Agile process successful, and that the process in and of itself will not make projects or individuals successful.

Expanding the reach of transformational change
The method is transformational in nature. It always has been and is likely to always be true. What was new about this reality at the 2013 awards was the report from many of the attendees that this change is expanding beyond individual teams, projects or departments and having an impact throughout entire companies. Adoption of the methodology is changing the way that companies are selling, the way they run their day to day operations, the manner in which they conduct even the most remedial of customer interactions. More importantly, the change gains momentum and after initial resistance, common of any dramatic change, the ultimate impact is employees feel better about their jobs, their contribution, the marketplace they are in and their employer. Agile improves employment culture.

We would like to congratulate the winners of the 2013 UK Agile awards (you can see the full list here), and once again thank the UK Agile community for affording us the opportunity to participate in recognising and reporting on the way that Agile is being used to drive success. Looking forward to 2014!

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