The 12 Days of Agile Principles! Principle #5

go team

Welcome to Day 5 of 12 Days of Agile Principles and this is one of my favourites!

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

Engagement is now commonly understood as something you want to have, it seems ridiculous to think that it’s roughly 250 years since the industrial revolution and we are cottoning on to this as an idea.  Perhaps it’s a good thing for workers to enjoy their work, their workmates and feel purposeful about what they are doing every day?  If you ever need any evidence that things are in a constant change state then I recommend ageing. You wouldn’t believe how much working conditions can change in just one persons career unless you experienced it yourself, and it’s quite a sweet part of being alive to see things change for the better for teams as you do.


Well, the learned friends of the manifesto had captured this in 2001 and several other studies and publications are since endorsing the same message, that perhaps if you want people to achieve great things, standing over them with a big stick and shouting ‘faster faster’, doubting their approach, questioning their abilities and mistrusting their intention will not get you the result you are hoping for.  That's why tools like happiness and productivity surveys are common in most agile delivery shops, although,  I was amused recently when working in a place where there was a decision to leave out the teams ‘Sentiment metric’ (ie Happiness rating) when we reported to the board, rationalised as 'they don’t really understand what that metric is meant to convey’.  Is that not the definition of irony?  Maybe Boards need to get on-board with engagement as an important performance measure of their companies? 

What follows are a few adjuncts that compliment this principle:

Great leaders want to see if they are hitting the mark in terms of nurturing motivation and engagement.  First Published back in 1970 by Robert K. Greenleaf and enjoying new audiences today is The Servant as Leader , an excellent read about the qualities of leaders who aim to serve their teams. 


There recently emerged a 'movement' around this concept: 'Management 3.0' and includes servant leadership.  Other alternatives to hierarchical org structures like 'Holocracy' emerged from companies like Medium and Zappos.  Closer to home check out self selection by Sandy Mamoli at Nomad8: the concept, book and practice about teams getting to choose their own team to belong to and what they work on.


Wider than the Agile and make-stuff community is Fredrick Laloux's Teal Organisations this concept indicates that this is bigger than us, and could be the next stage in the evolution of human consciousness.  Woah.

All good reasons that affirm Principle #5 with it's ingredients of environment, motivation and trust. 

Tune in again next time for Agile Principle #6 or join the conversation at @TheRebootCo