A few notes from AgileHR Sweden 1

Yesterday I attended the Agile HR Sweden conference here in Stockholm.  The overarching theme for the conference, arranged by Green Bullet Solutions , was “How can we together create better and more agile organizations”. The conference featured well renowned speakers such as Jurgen Appelo, author of Management 3.0 and How to change the world, and Bjarte Bogsnes, author of Implementing Beyond Budgeting. Borth Jurgen and Bjarte delivered excellent talks, and their books are highly recommended.

The topic of Agile and HR is of great interest to me. I see the marriage of these two areas as a natural development of the Agile “movement”. As these “new” ideas found in Agile struggle to take the necessary leap from product development shops and take root in other parts of organizations, it’s easy to see how the HR domain is a good candidate for the label “the next frontier”.

Personally, I’ve seen how my transition from Product Owner to Agile Coach has moved me further and further into the HR domain. It is of course nigh-on impossible to walk around with a Systems Thinking mindset and not stumble into the areas of organizational development, change management, group dynamics, learning and the professional and personal development of individual team members. Just to mention a few.

As the Agile Coach role takes different shapes and forms depending on who carries the title, this might not be the case for everyone, but personally I make it my business to explore and attempt to continuously improve on the “how” of just about everything.

After attending the conference it became clear to me that these are early days, and that this intersection between Agile and HR has quite some way to go. The very theme of the conference speaks volumes on where we are, as “creating better and more agile organisations” carries the all too common implication that agile = better, in the sense that if you just slap on the prefix “agile” it must be good. A shaky position that has been known to lead people astray before.

A few of us have moved on from this and choose to see agile (and in particular agile practices) as one of many tools in the toolbox. I think Jurgen Appelo made a good case for this as he presented scrum, kanban, lean, scenario planning, design thinking, real options, lean startup et. al as part of the same family. And as is the case in many other families, there’s some bickering going on, but they all share the same DNA. And at the core we find complexity theory and Systems Thinking.

All in all, I think the conference was an excellent initiative from the people at Green Bullet, and the event most certainly served as a good indicator of the current state of affairs. And I believe that this particular part of the journey towards the future of work has just begun.


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