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Case Study of Agile and HR Collaboration

Jas Chong talked about HR in Agile and Agile in HR at the Agile Tour Brussels 2014 conference. She presented a case study where she worked as change manager together with an agile coach to introduce agile and lean practices in the organization. She worked closely with HR to realize these changes from the HR and organisation front. 

The agile coach and HR worked together to support the changes that were needed in the organization. Each one focused on different but complementary aspects:

Agile Coach:

  • Agile methods and set up
  • Team transition
  • Adapt change to team
  • Definition of key responsibilities & roles
  • Team building – agile way of working


  • Career development & HR set up, personal motivation (work contract, job description etc)
  • Recruitment / Transition
  • Team building – competency based
  • Competency, training & development

When you put an agile coach together with people from HR there will be a lot of misunderstanding said Jas. For example an agile coach may be focusing on teams and could question individual evaluations that are common in HR policies, while HR might think that Scrum master is just another name for the project manager role.

Agile puts less emphasis on jobs and functions as Jas explained in her talk. When an organization transitions to agile, individuals will worry about their career path. Is there any seniority or will a developer always be a developer? Is there horizontal career development in agile? HR will need to deal with this, said Jas.

Jas explained how the agile coach and HR collaborated to help the organization to move from non agile to agile. The agile coach and HR change manager organized a management workshop for introducing agile using a business agility game. The changes were done in an agile way by using iterations. The agile coach trained people about agile methods and mentored and coached them to learn the new roles. Pair mentoring and pair programming were used to support knowledge transfer. HR discussed the changes that were needed with the unions and recruited and transitioned teams to agile in iterations. The combined approach helped to establish agile teams incrementally and supported people to grow into their new roles.

If you want to change the organizational structure and functions you have to involve the unions in the discussions said Jas. When you have the union supporting the change, things will go much smoother.

HR has to support agile in building an innovative and adaptable organization. Due to a lack of understanding of the roles in agile HR initially tried to recruit “superman”. HR should be recruiting a super team, not individuals, said Jas. The team became involved in the interview process, selecting their own team members. The complete competence has to be in the team, not every person has to have all competences. Teams also need diversity to grow new ideas and develop themselves.

Jas suggested to the attendees of Agile Tour Brussels to read about total talent management. This approach looks at anybody who can influence your company success, not only employees but also external people. You can do talent planning with all kinds of contracts said Jas to create an adaptable and innovative organization.

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