II. Strong in the Present:

Agility Around

the Human Experience

From the introduction, you understood that we look at agility holistically - at
the organisational level, within teams, and at individual employee level.

In Part I. Empowered by the Past: Agility Ingrained in the Corporate Culture we shared inspirational examples and easy, practical tools for integrating agile practices at all levels of an organisation. Now let's do the same about human experience!

The first and foremost principle of two of our favorite methodologies is that people come first. And while in Design Thinking the said people are usually the users, in Agile the focus is put unquestionably upon the employees.

Keeping your humanity even in the midst of intense change, fast-paced schedules and stressful episodes, safeguards us as individuals, teams and organisations, so it is a powerful skill worth practicing.

An inspiring story of a human-centric agile corporation we love is that of Lego. See how they manage to keep all their activities human-centred, aligned and purposeful.

How does it translate in your teamwork?

Google’s argues that “who is on a team matters much less than how team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions” and defines 5 dynamics that, across all types of teams and diversity, consistently differentiate top performers:

  • psychological safety = the level of risk-taking, admitting mistakes, asking questions and offering new ideas;
  • dependability = responsibility ownership and timely work completion;
  • structural clarity = providing clear roles, goals, and plans for team members;
  • meaning = bringing a sense of purpose;
  • and impact = seeing how one’s work contributes to bringing positive change.

There are daily micro-actions that, when taken with sufficient regularity, can increase these dynamics and ensure strong and resilient bonds between them. Putting the human in the centre of everything we do, let’s consider how two of Google’s team dynamics can be augmented:

To ensure more psychological safety in our team, we can:

To ensure more structural clarity in our team, we can:

  • apply a consistent goal-setting framework that works best for the team. Here are some great frameworks that go beyond SMART goals. One of our favourite is setting HARD goals - heartfelt, animated, required, difficult
  • clearly define roles, organised around the ways of working of the organisation, their individual responsibilities and the principles for their rotation. The Belbin model defines some classical roles we often find in business contexts. With the aim of improving agility in the team, we perceive the facilitator as an indispensable role - setting the agenda, making sure everyone is prepared for the meeting and keeping discussions productive.

How to incorporate it in personal life?

We can act empathetically and humanly - both towards ourselves and others - only when we are fully present in the moment. Nowadays, it is challenging to concentrate our full attention on one thing for more than a few minutes, despite the benefits that deep work brings about. Tasks that require our 100% focus carry a degree of difficulty and discomfort, so we subconsciously try to avoid them.

For this reason, we suggest 3 simple steps you can follow to deal with this discomfort and run a productive focus session:

  1. Here’s a collection of some quick centering and grounding practices to help us enter a state of deliberate and deep concentration more quickly. Pick one and do it for a minute at the beginning of your focus session.
  2. Decide exactly how long you will stay in this focus session - set a timer if you need to. You don't need to go on a cycle of focus sessions like the Pomodoro practice—even one or two a day will increase your overall presence, attention, and effectiveness.
  3. Make a distraction to-do list: anything you want to check - from your email, to what time the movie you want to see at the cinema this weekend, tо tomorrow’s weather forecast - write it down on a list and go through it after you finish your focus session. Take a few minutes where your only task is to go through the items on the distraction list, and then proceed with a clear mind to your next commitments.

Applying any of these practices centers us in the present moment no matter the circumstances and helps us be more efficient and fully present in our tasks whether we are engaging in solitary work, walking into a meeting or sharing dinner with our loved ones. In this way, we not only behave more humanely with ourselves and others, but also become more resistant to stress and more agile in our ability to cope with challenges.