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6 Crucial practices leaders must adopt when implementing Agile

Wilhelm Crous - Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Agile movement is moving quickly from the software development environment to other industries and disciplines. HR and marketing departments are increasingly making the transition to Agile organisations such as GE, GAP, the big five accounting firms and banks such as ING are implementing Agile HR practices.

The movement towards Agile HR is most evident in the areas of performance appraisals, compensation, learning and development, management and supervision and teams (Cappelli and Travis).

The diagram below summarises the differences between the traditional HR and Agile HR:

Nevertheless, implementing Agile isn’t a simple task.

In a Harvard Business Review article: Embracing Agile; Rigby, Sutherland and Takeuchi highlight six crucial practices leaders must adopt if they want to introduce and capitalise on Agile:

  1. Learn how Agile really works
  2. Understand where Agile DO and DO NOT work 
  3. Start small and let the word spread
  4. Allow “master” teams to customise their practices
  5. Practice Agile at the top
  6. Destroy the barriers to Agile behaviours

The bottom line is Agile is about people over procedure and tools…. It’s about responding to change rather than following a plan… Working prototypes over excessive documents… Customer collaboration as opposed to rigid contracts.

McKinsey advises that the “backbone” of the organisation needs to be transformed in order to successfully move towards Agile (i.e. processes, systems, beliefs and values). The backbone governs how decisions get made, how people, budgets and capital get deployed and how risks get managed. Here are some of the transformations that must be made when implementing Agile practices and the role HR will play:

Note: Click here to download this infographic as a PDF you can share with your colleagues.

Find out what’s working in Agile for international and local organisations

If you’d like to learn more the theories and practical applications behind the Agile movement and discover local and international case studies on the implementation of Agile then don’t miss the HR Goes Agile Conference. You’ll have a chance to hear from companies, such as: Accenture, ABSA Group, Microsoft and more. 

You can access the complete programme here

You will also have the opportunity to attend two pre-conference workshops on 19-20 August in Sandton:
For more information please contact Katie van der Schyff on +27 11 706 6009 or


Brosseau, D., Ebrahim, S., Handscomb, C., & Thaker, S. (2019, May). The journey to an agile organisation. McKinsey & Company.
Cappelli, P., & Tavis, A. (2018, March-April). HR Goes Agile. Harvard Business Review, 46-52.
Thoren, P.-M. (2018). Agile People: A Radical approval for HR Managers. Sweden: Lioncrest & Knowledge Resources South Africa.
Rigby, D. K., Sutherland, J., & Noble, A. (2018). Agile At Scale: How to go from a few teams fo hundreds. Harvard Business Review, 88-96.




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