How can HR people make a difference in an Agile transformation?


I love this representation by Ahmad Sidky in his talk at Agile NewZeeland 2015, describing the elements of organizational culture and how Agile transformations influence them.

Transformations naturally start with a change in the process and the tools, which inevitably create tension that is supposed to catalyze a deeper change in other elements of the culture. Many implementations struggle and even get stuck at that stage. This is the hard part since it is mostly about people’s behaviors and habits and it takes time. This is exactly where HR professionals come in! I’m not trying to say that only at this stage HR people start partnering and pushing the transformation, I am only emphasizing their importance at this stage. HR departments are key in leading Agile transformations to long, lasting and truly impactful ones.

Speed is the “holy grail” of Agile. Strangely, it isn’t only about implementing some new technologies that help to build software faster. It also and mainly includes changing basic paradigms that lie at the core of the organizational culture.

Here are some aspects and examples that are part of HR responsibilities and activities that can push new paradigms into the organizational culture:

  • Helping leaders with leading and shaping the change process and providing them with the tools to lead & coach in a way that grows teams’ autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Agile frameworks are built to enable it and it’s imperative to understand how to harness them effectively. The role of the manager is highly impacted from the transformation to Agile and as the managers are critical to the organization leaving them confused is a terrible loss.
  • Leading the change in a way that engages people is crucial- sometimes a small mistake here can harm the transformation and take it many steps backward. The change itself requires constant inspecting and adapting, and through this practice, Agile ways of thinking are injected into the way the organization operates. The hardest challenge of Agility is collaboration across silos. HR people have this wide system view across silos and can help steer the change.
  • Organizational restructuring – Agile transformation is not a one time change. The organization evolves and might have several structural changes that bring it closer to a value-driven Agile organization. People have new roles and responsibilities, new tools and practices they need to master. With Agile comes flexibility in terms of roles and responsibilities and it’s HR’s mission to define the structure of these new, flexible roles and responsibilities and to address any problems employees have during the transition.
  • Creating collaborative workspaces: Agile team members need to be highly collaborative in their day-to-day work. HR can help create an open workspace where people can freely communicate to enhance this collaboration.
  • Recruiting people that have the right mindset and attitude to work in an Agile environment is key. Some example characteristics: team players, T-shaped people – people that can contribute in areas that are not only in their main skill, people who have experience working in an Agile environment.
  • Performance reviews influence people that understand which behaviors are appreciated in the organization. Therefore HR should stress aspects that encourage teamwork, continuous learning and early constructive feedback, self-management and taking ownership.
  • People Engagement – very central to the Agile mindset is the engagement model. HR should help to build employees’ intrinsic motivation, creating an environment where people can influence, lead and take ownership. Bringing people closer to value creation.

The 11th State of an agile survey published this year keeps showing, as every year, that the main challenge for adopting Agile is organizational philosophy and culture. When those are at odds with Agile core values Agility is impeded.

HR professionals “own the keys” to the organizational culture and are therefore critical strategic partners in the transformation.

If you want to hear more about the experience of the organizations we worked with, come to an Agile for HR Professionals Workshop 



The Kanban Method
Agile Community
Elastic Leadership
Agile Product Development
Systems Thinking
Jira Cloud
Certified SAFe
Agile Games
Lean Agile Management
Continuous Deployment
Principles of Lean-Agile Leadership
Change Management
Kanban Kickstart Example
Business Agility
PI Objectives
Agile Project Management
PI Planning
Development Value Streams
Agile Contracts Best Practices
Scaled Agile Framework
Effective Agile Retrospectives
Lean Software Development
Agile Exercises
Agile India
Daily Scrum
Agile Product Ownership
Test Driven Development
Product Management
System Integration Environments
Implementing SAFe
System Team
Managing Risk on Agile Projects
Agile Basics
Advanced Roadmaps
A Kanban System for Software Engineering
Nexus and Kanban
Manage Budget Creation
Hybrid Work
Agile Outsourcing
Limiting Work in Progress
Nexus and SAFe
Perfection Game
Artificial Intelligence
Sprint Retrospectives
Lean and Agile Techniques
Software Development
lean agile change management
Agile Testing Practices
Program Increment
Agile Mindset
Games and Exercises
Iterative Incremental Development
Professional Scrum with Kanban
Operational Value Stream
Accelerate Value Delivery At Scale
Agile for Embedded Systems
Rapid RTC
ALM Tools
Lean-Agile Software Development
Process Improvement
Agile Techniques
Continuous Delivery
Agile Release Planning
Applying Agile Methodology
Lean Agile Leadership
Risk-aware Product Development
Pomodoro Technique
Scrum With Kanban
ScrumMaster Tales
Lean Budgeting
Sprint Planning
The Agile Coach
SAFe DevOps
Nexus Integration Team
Lean-Agile Budgeting
Engineering Practices
Coaching Agile Teams
Continuous Integration
Story Slicing
Product Ownership
Introduction to Test Driven Development
Acceptance Test-Driven Development
Introduction to ATDD
Kanban 101
Release Train Engineer
speed @ scale
Scrum and XP
Software Development Estimation
Implementation of Lean and Agile
Agile and DevOps Journey
Agile Risk Management
Quality Assurance
Agile Assembly Architecture
Agile Development
Value Streams
speed at scale
Scrum Guide
Scrum Primer
Professional Scrum Master
Lean Startup
SAFe Release Planning
Agile Marketing
Releases Using Lean
Agile Program
Continuous Improvement
IT Operations
Kaizen Workshop
AI Artificial Intelligence
Portfolio for Jira
Entrepreneurial Operating System®
Agile Release Management
Lean Agile Organization
Risk Management on Agile Projects
System Archetypes
Agile Games and Exercises
Kanban Game
RTE Role
Nexus vs SAFe
Agile Israel Events
Reading List
Sprint Iteration
Agile Delivery
Lean and Agile Principles and Practices
Continuous Planning
Scrum Values
Kanban Basics
Agile in the Enterprise
Professional Scrum Product Owner
Legacy Enterprise
An Appreciative Retrospective
What Is Kanban
Large Scale Scrum
Scrum Master
Lean Agile
Managing Projects
Legacy Code
Lean Risk Management
Lean Agile Basics
Agile Project
Enterprise DevOps
Built-In Quality
Achieve Business Agility
Scrum Master Role
Risk Management in Kanban
Jira Plans
ART Success

Contact Us

Request for additional information and prices

AgileSparks Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter, and stay updated on the latest Agile news and events

This website uses Cookies to provide a better experience
Shopping cart