So, What is Agile People Development?


It’s whatever you want it to be.

Sorry, that’s probably not very helpful (and would make for a very short post) but it’s important not to get hung up on details when the perspective shift is what really matters.  

Before we get to the answer, let’s properly identify the question.  What exactly are we trying to solve by going agile with our people development?

Despite the best intentions of L&D teams, programmes still often start with a long list of topics, learning outcomes or some collection of things we want people to do well. We then try to figure out the most efficient way to get people through training that covers everything.

The problem? We’re often addressing symptoms, rather than the underlying illness. And while people derive a certain amount of reassurance from the ‘sticking plaster’ experience, they usually don’t make changes as a result.

Rather than being seen as a benefit, standard training can actually reduce motivation if people feel it’s being ‘done to them’. However, if they see how their development supports their mission and links to the bigger picture they are more engaged and likely more productive.

This is a known problem. Agile can help us address it by focusing on four core principles which I talk more about in the video:

  1. Prioritisation - finding the most valuable problem to solve, not the most vocal complaint

  2. Focus - ruthlessly targeting that problem until you’ve had an impact

  3. Experimentation - questioning your assumptions, killing your darlings, and making proper hypotheses

  4. Stakeholder engagement - true engagement through collaborative exploration

Follow these research-based principles and you’ll be more likely to see results that lead to strategic impact. In L&D, HR, Talent and OD we need to constantly question and challenge. What’s the most valuable thing? What’s going to have the most impact? Why are we doing this? What problem are we solving for the organisation?

Doing a little at a time, involving people in the process and experimenting as we go means we can test whether we’ve achieved the desired impact and make sure what we do stays relevant to changing needs and priorities.

Melissa SabellaComment