Agile Needs People Skills

Agile Needs People Skills

Every company, colleague, academic or friend I speak to these days has a concern about complexity and the accelerating pace of change, both of which are leading to high levels of uncertainty.

In Nik Gowing and Chris Langdon’s excellent 2016 report for the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants – ‘Thinking The Unthinkable’, Leaders from across industry gave a brutally honest assessment of the challenges facing them in this new reality of fast, complex, systemic changes. In the conclusion of the report, Patricia Seemann, Founder of 3am Group, says “ People in a resilient organisation in our model is one which has people who are good at creating collaborative networks. They know who to collaborate with. Secondly, they know how to foster engagement and they have the means to get things done collaboratively – both inside and outside the organisation.”

Again and again I hear the cry we need ‘Agile Methodology’ or we need to be more ‘Agile’. I’ve quoted the Values and Principles of the Agile Manifesto (below) and come to the conclusion that all of it requires excellent people skills. These are at the heart of my summary of what it takes to be good at Stakeholder Management:

Agile People Skills

Microsoft Developer Network -Agile Principles and Values by Jeff Sutherland:

Jeff Sutherland, of Microsoft, invented Scrum in 1993 and worked with Ken Schwaber to formalize Scrum. Together, they extended and enhanced Scrum at many software companies and helped write the ‘Agile Manifesto’.

The Agile Manifesto is comprised of four foundational values and 12 supporting principles which lead the Agile approach to software development.

The Four Values of The Agile Manifesto

  1. Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools
    2. Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation
    3. Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation
    4. Responding to Change Over Following a Plan

Agile methodologies allow the Agile team to modify the process and make it fit the team rather than the other way around. The Twelve Principles are the guiding principles for the methodologies that are included under the title “The Agile Movement.” They describe a culture in which change is welcome, and the customer is the focus of the work.

The Twelve Agile Manifesto Principles

  1. Customer satisfaction through early and continuous software delivery
  2. Accommodate changing requirements throughout the development process
  3. Frequent delivery of working software
  4. Collaboration between the business stakeholders and developers throughout the project
  5. Support, trust, and motivate the people involved
  6. Enable face-to-face interactions
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress
  8. Agile processes to support a consistent development pace
  9. Attention to technical detail and design enhances agility
  10. Simplicity
  11. Self-organizing teams encourage great architectures, requirements, and designs
  12. Regular reflections on how to become more effective

The intention of Agile is to align development with business needs, and the success of Agile is apparent. Agile projects are customer focused and encourage customer guidance and participation. As a result, Agile has grown to be an overarching view of software development throughout the software industry and an industry all by itself.

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