People-Centred Agile

People factors have up to ten times more impact on productivity of software delivery than an effective method or process. But often our projects and teams suffer from poor communication, a lack of collaboration and low morale.

Agile values Individuals and interactions over processes and tools, yet Scrum, XP, Kanban and SAFe are defined in terms of roles, artefacts and processes (often in the form of events and practices). And when people “just follow the process” blindly they miss the spirit of Agile and risk failing to deliver. But what else are people supposed to do when that’s how the method is defined?

So how, as a leader of an Agile implementation, can you help your people to be at their best?

Saying “empower the team” or “be a servant leader” isn’t enough – Agile is inviting both leaders and their teams to go on challenging journeys of self-development.

People-Centred Agile teaches people how to communicate effectively, to collaborate with others and to go on a journey to create teams and ways of working where people are at their very best.

Business needs are people needs

People-centred Agile is firmly targeted at creating business success. It’s core principle is that all aspects of business are interactions between people who are trying to get their needs met.

Think how effective your business would be if your people could rapidly understand the needs of your customers, your stakeholders and your business clients, precisely and effectively communicate with them and focus all of their talent and skills with great motivation on meeting those needs. That is the business proposition for People-Centred Agile.

“The key elements in the art of working together are how to deal with change, how to deal with conflict, and how to reach our potential…the needs of the team are best met when we meet the needs of individual persons.”

Max DePree

The outcomes

People-centred Agile focuses on understanding the unique characteristics of each individual first and then builds teams and ultimately organisations that allow those people to work at their best.

As an individual

I know what’s important in my work and career
I know how to recognise when I’m at my best
I know how to get to my best and what stops me
I know what an ideal team for me is like
I know what an ideal organisation for me is like

As a team

We’re dedicated to a clear business purpose
We know how each other works at their best
We support each other to each work at our best
We’ve created a team that works for us all
We act to create an organisation that works for us all


As an individual

I know how I manage time
I know how I make decisions
I know how I am when I start to lose my temper
I know how I learn at my best

As a team

We manage our time effectively
We make decisions effectively
We harness conflict to improve what we do
We actively learn and improve


Unlock the potential in your people

Paul is passionate about helping people and helping teams run at their peak. We accomplished a lot but what I remember most is how much fun we had and how comfortably we were able to throw out new ideas amongst ourselves. I’ve worked on lots of global teams, but I’ve never worked on one as open and collaborative as this one before or since.
Nicole Norman

Functional Analyst, Deutsche Bank

Everyone who worked in Paul’s teams came away with a huge sense of achievement, personal development and a belief that they took part in something special. Paul is an exceptional coach – with an ability to listen with great compassion, to be comfortable with emotional situations and to ask deep, thought-provoking questions. I highly recommend working with Paul, if you can.
Yubelsi Bello

Programme Manager, Deutsche Bank

“Real teams don’t emerge unless individuals on them take risks involving conflict, trust, interdependence and hard work.”

Katzenbach & Smith

The toolkit


Self Awareness

People are often not consciously aware of their own values and beliefs or the behaviours they use to get their needs met. This can lead them into situations where they know they are not at their best but they don’t know why or what they can do about it.

By developing self-awareness, they are able to express their needs and values, to have flexibility in their behaviour and to co-create ways of working that put them and others at their very best.


Powerful Communication

Misunderstandings of what’s important for business success can be very costly and miscommunication when people express their needs can result in frustration or even anger.

People-Centred Agile teaches powerful questions to uncover information and resolve ambiguities; and it teaches people how to use specific language (examples, sensory language, data) and metaphoric language to express themselves more effectively.


Curious Inquiry

People often assume that others want the same things as them, understand the same things as them and like to work in the same way as them. That’s rarely true and the assumption causes untold miscommunication, counterproductive behaviours and blame.

People are wonderfully unique and idiosyncratic. We can stop for a moment to place our own opinions and judgements to one side and inquire with sincere curiosity into other people’s worlds. When we do, not only do we create strong relationships, we gain the understanding to create ways of working together at our very best.

Co-Creating a Vision

Company values and visions are meant to bring people together and inspire them with a common purpose. But usually, they are pushed down from above onto people with little interest and fail to contribute to business success or people’s job satisfaction.

When individuals have self awareness and can curiously inquire into each other’s worlds, they can create a vision that truly inspires them. It could be a vision for the company, for a product, for a customer experience, or for how the team will work. And when people share a vision they created themselves, that satisfies their values and delivers their needs, the motivation to deliver on that vision is incredible.

Disciplined Learning

People-Centred Agile invites people to adopt one process framework: the plan-do-measure-reflect loop.

Planning involves thinking of solutions to meet some needs of some people; doing involves taking action to make progress on those solutions; measuring involves actively seeking data and feedback on whether the solutions are meeting people’s needs and reflecting is improving understanding, solutions and self-awareness to do better during the next loop.

People are invited to create these loops at different timescales: hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly loops can all be useful.

Unlock the potential in your people

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