Full transcript available
Automated: [00:00:01] Welcome to the Inclusive Growth Show with Toby Mildon and future proofing your business by creating a diverse workplace.
Toby Mildon: [00:00:13] Hello and welcome to this episode of The Inclusive Growth show. I am Toby Mildon, your host for today, and I’m joined by a fantastic guest, Andrew Jones. Who is the founder and Chief Executive of Agility in Mind. Andrew, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you on, on the show today.
Andrew Jones: [00:00:32] Thank you very much Toby. So, it is very good to see you and to talk to you.
Toby Mildon: [00:00:36] Brilliant, so Andrew, could you just introduce yourself? Let us know about what your business does, how you got into your role, your current line of work?
Andrew Jones: [00:00:45] Well, Agility in Mind is the business that I found about 10 years ago. In fact, it’s our 10th anniversary coming up in the summer of this year.
Toby Mildon: [00:00:53] Congratulations.
Andrew Jones: [00:00:54] Well, thank you very much. We were going to be celebrating but for obvious reasons. We might put that off for a little while. The thing that we do with the people that we work with our clients is, we provide them with consulting and training and coaching that helps them to improve the way that they are working, and the outcome that we’re looking for, we would call business agility. That’s the ability to respond to changes, you know, for example, you know, big changes that all the situation at the moment and across the world, you know, how do we respond to things like that? Fortunately, we don’t understand the big things all the time, but we should always be inspecting and adapting our organizations to make them better. I got into it really because I spent a lot of time in the software industry and discovered quite a lot of challenges, especially developing and delivering complex systems to clients. And I was always looking for a better way of doing that. And I discovered agile ways of working. And, so it’s a long story short, I sort of set up Agility in Mind really to to take that agile way of working into organizations. And I do remember, really right back then that the message really was about, this is about people as individuals, not about people as resources in an organization. And to try to remind people that that is what we do and that we have moved on a long way since the industrial revolution. We’ve moved a long way since then, and what we should really be doing is thinking about people and about by how they work together.
Toby Mildon: [00:02:32] Brilliant, thank you. So, what is agile?
Andrew Jones: [00:02:36] Well, you know what? We asked this question when we recruit people and the recruitment process actually is one that should be a lot more inclusive for people. We, but one of the questions that we ask in a little video interview is what is agile? And so, we do get even from sort of experts in the industry that wants to join us, we do get sort of varying, varying responses to it. The way that I like to think about it, it is a set of principles. It’s really summarized in something that’s called The Agile Manifesto. And that’s really just four items which tells you where you should put the emphasis in when you’re trying to get teams of people working together. What’s happened over time is the manifesto, which is around people working together in their interactions. It’s been turned into certain frameworks that get used a little bit more structured in their approach. But ultimately, it’s finding ways to get people to collaborate against common goals, whether that’s down at a team level or whether it’s at a product level or business level. But it’s getting people to collaborate against common goals and coming up with, sort of artifacts. So, things that they produce that they use when they’re doing that events. Those are the things that bring them together in a structured way. And instead of, I suppose, small, this process that helps them to figure out how they should be, how they should be working together in a consistent way so we can get more complex than that. But it shouldn’t be other than getting people working together. It’s quite a complex thing because there’s such a diversity of people, and we’ve all got different perspectives and trying to get lots of different perspectives together against a common goal is the real challenge.
Toby Mildon: [00:04:29] Yeah, I mean, I’ve, I’ve been using Agile working for a very long time. In fact, you and I met when I was working at the BBC. I was at an agile project manager in software development. I was working on projects like the redevelopment of the BBC News Website and the development of the iPlayer, radio app and things like that. And it is a really great way to work. I mean, how does, so you mentioned the actual manifesto. I mean, how does the manifesto lend itself to inclusivity and helping organisations work in an a much more inclusive way?
Andrew Jones: [00:05:07] Well, I would say the first line of the manifesto is, says that what we should do, is to put more emphasis on individuals and interactions rather than process tools. So if you look at it from, if you’re just focused on process and tools, you start to make quite a lot of assumptions about the tools that people can use to the processes that they can engage in. So, you start to make assumptions about how an individual might engage in an organization. You do tend to generalize around that. However, if you put the emphasis on the other side, which is by individuals and interactions, you start to think that every single person that you bring together into a team with a common purpose has got that sort of individual outlook, personality, capability, challenges, whatever. But, you know, we we are all unique. And when, when we do that, we start to realize that the more we can get different perspectives and the things that we’re doing, the more effective we are going to be. Now, I think it sets the agenda. I supposed the manifesto this is our agenda of how we should work. It perhaps doesn’t prescribe, you know, how you get perhaps past some of the challenges of making a job working in inclusive, for example. But I think it’s the starting point. And so we always remind people when we first start talking to them about there, let’s say that agile transformation that they, they might be interested in, we, we start to remind them that it’s not about the process and tools, because you can do that in lots of ways. It’s about the people and about how they work together.
Toby Mildon: [00:07:01] Brilliant, this inclusive growth show is for diversity and inclusion leaders, for HR directors or, or, C-suite executives who are sponsoring divesting and inclusion within there organization. So if they like the sound of, of agile and the way of working, how can they start to apply agile to the workplace to make it to make it more inclusive?
Andrew Jones: [00:07:27] The, I think that the starting point is really to understand what those underlying principles are. Some people do make the mistake of jumping into a particular framework. So if they were to research agile, they might come across something like Scrum, for example, which has got a defined way of working, it’s got a defined benefit, defined process, defined roles, defined artifacts and events. And that it’s great as a framework, but what we will always do is take people back to what is one of the fundamental principles. So that’s where I would start. Say, look, if we’re going to do this, let’s just make sure that we understand why we’re going to do it. What we’re going to get out of it as an organization, what the outcomes might be. How will the organization be different? And even if you start there as a down at a team level, how will how will it look in three months or six months’ time? Once we’ve looked at what is the difference that it’s going to make and try to think past the sort of functional elements of that. Again, trying to think past things necessarily that the necessarily measurable right from the start and try not to think too much about measuring, let’s say, a sort of key, key performance indicators, you know. Let’s try not to do that. Let’s think about what will it look like and how will it feel for people across our organization or people that we want to bring into our organization? How will it be different for us because we’ve started to apply these principles.
Toby Mildon:[00:09:04] That’s brilliant. That’s really great advice. I mean, say, if an organization does apply agile working and, the agile principles and manifesto in order to help it become more inclusive, what could they expect this to look like on, on a day to day basis?
Andrew Jones: [00:09:21] I think on a day to day basis, some, what we should start to see is that, so certainly teams of people that are working against that have common outcomes or, or goals are starting to collaborate. And they’re talking together on a daily basis about what will help them to get there. So, for example, you know, at the start of the day, they could be getting together and say, look, these the things that I did yesterday, I have achieved this. And I know that it’s aligned with what we’re trying to achieve. I’m going to do this today because I know that it’s aligned with what we’ve tried to achieve. Or it could be, I want to achieve this, but I’ve got this obstacle in the way, you know, who, who can help and who can take this beyond the team. So once you start to get those sorts of conversations in place and you can you can stand and listen to the conversations. You start to realize that it’s now, not, just a bunch of individuals, but you’ve got a group of people who are using each other’s skills. And I suppose respecting each other’s different contributions to achieving those overall goals as opposed to just seeing them as functional contributors to a, you know, to a process.
Toby Mildon: [00:10:34] That’s really, that’s brilliant. So, I actually interviewed in my book Inclusive Growth. And the chapter called colleague Experience and Design. And this chapter is really based on the principle that organizations should stop trying to fix individuals but try to fix the business processes or the cultures that holding people back. So, for example, what I see with a lot of my clients is that businesses will create a program like women in leadership, for example. And it’s all about trying to fix the individual, putting them through mentoring, pairing them up with a mentor, but not really looking at the things that could be holding them back. Like in a culture of presenteeism, for example, or expecting and expecting people to work late hours and things like that. So, one thing in the chapter that you and I talked about was about how we can use Agile as a way of redesigning processes and systems that do hold people back. And I mean, in summary, how, how could, how would we use agile to, to achieve that?
Andrew Jones: [00:11:44] So, I’ve been talking about sort of processes and systems. One things that we like to do when we work with a team of people is to get them to map out, to draw up not with any fancy tools, but just to map out what it is to, to complete a piece of work on what the steps that they go through, and what are the contributions that they make at each of those individual steps. And what we do is to is to figure out and get the team to figure out what that process is today. The next step is the crucial thing though, is right, how do we want it to be? What is going to work for us as a group of people, as a group of individuals that are coming together as a team? And then we get them to say, well, actually, we can we can improve that bit, that works fine. What we really, we always get stuck here because we don’t have the right skills. You know what? Whatever it might be. It immediately starts to become an inclusive process because people are seeing things from different perspectives. They’ll see it from the perspective, different practitioners, but they’ll also see it from the perspective of individuals. So that’s a really nice, nice way to get people to think about the process of work, if you like.
Toby Mildon: [00:12:55] So, this is the inclusive growth show. It’s all about how businesses can grow by being more diverse and more inclusive. I think this a, we are recording this episode. Just, we haven’t even reached the peak of the pandemic in the UK with the Coronavirus and I think when organizations go back to work, Diversity and Inclusion is going to play a really crucial part in enabling those businesses to grow and bounce back from the economic crisis as well as the health crisis that we’re finding in. So from your perspective, how do you think greater inclusivity helps businesses grow? And in particular, how does it help your business grow Agility in mind?
Andrew Jones: [00:13:38] I think that what we recognize is that, you know, to be, well first of all, to be an effective business. You can’t treat. You can’t treat your customers as if they’re all sort of a generic sort of prototype of a person. And what we, what we have to do is to understand that, the more we understand about our customers, about the way they work, the better. So, because we work with lots of different people in organizations, you know, we can’t, for example, categorize some people into being the difficult people. And when, when someone says that to me, I’ll say, well, the interesting thing about those difficult people is they’ll probably say that you were the difficult person, you know. And the thing is that there are different perspectives on that. And so, it depends on whose viewpoint. So I think for us, recognizing that there is that diversity of thought, you know, of interaction, of preference, of ability and disability and challenges. And once you recognize that, you can engage better. So that’s why it’s important for us to recognize. Having that sort of diversity and inclusion within, within the organization. I think, you know, to me it is just common sense, really. You know, why? Why would you exclude, exclude people because of the processes in the facilities and the culture that you’ve created organization.
Andrew Jones: [00:15:11] Why would you exclude or prejudice skills from people who can make a big contribution? And it’s true of anybody as they go through that sort of whole that the very sort of changes in their life, in their in their careers, you know, that their circumstances change. It’s very easy, you know, to write off men in their fifties as being, you know, just waiting for retirement, for example. You know, it’s it will be, I’d find that quite resentful that people started to say that about me, because we’ve got a we’ve got a contribution to make. You know, it’s making sure that we are using the skills and the capabilities of people all the way through that life cycle. So as, as time, as things change in their lives, as things change in their careers. You know, they want to put emphasis in different places, for example, or there might be an illness that holds them up in their career and has an impact on their on their mobility. For example, there might be an accident that does that. So, you know, recognizing that things change for people, in the end, we don’t just stay the same.
Toby Mildon: [00:16:20] That’s brilliant. Excellent. Thanks Andrew. I think that’s a great note for us to finish on. Andrew, thank you ever so much for joining me on the show today. And Andrew, before we go, how is the best way for people to get in touch with you if they want to talk to you about applying agile principles to their own businesses.
Andrew Jones: : [00:16:38] So you can either search Agility in mind and we’ll pop up in your browser or you can email me on Andrew@agility.im.
Toby Mildon: [00:16:47] Thanks Andrew and thank you for listening to today’s episode of Inclusive Growth Show. And I look forward to seeing you at next step episode. Thank you very much.
Automated: [00:16:56] Thank you for listening to the Inclusive Growth Show. For further information and resources from Toby and his team. Head on over to our website at Mildon.co.uk.