The HR Game Changer Blog

Design Thinking & Agile: HR tools of the future

This year the HR Game Changer is focusing on the tools you can use to change the game. Of everything available, a couple of methods were complete standouts. It’s not that many HR people are using them yet, in fact only a very few are – but the results they are achieving are outstanding. We think these are tools that need to belong to the people profession!

Don’t know much about either? Here’s an overview to get your started.

The first method is Design Thinking.

Design thinking comes from the process of thinking that designers go through when they invent or design a new or different product or service. It’s a little different from the normal process we go through in HR when we design a policy or process, because here’s what designers do:

  • They define who their audience is and what the problem is
  • Then they research what’s already happening, they talk to end users and thought leaders
  • Next it’s ideation which is coming up with a whole lot of creative ideas for possible solutions (however crazy!)
  • Now they prototype and present ideas and discuss
  • They then choose which option will best work
  • They implement and design the product fully
  • Lastly they discuss and learn from the end user how well it’s met its goal.

Now it’s one thing to read it that, but another to experience it. I attended some of betterbydesign’s training on Design Thinking last year and got a first-hand experience of the difference in method and mind set. I think it’s an area that every HR person should learn more about.

So the HR Game Changer Conference this year, we’ll be having a MasterClass so you can experience how Design Thinking works. You can then map out how we could use this in HR and you’ll hear from a couple of amazing people who have been using this as a tool to change their culture and their processes. In NZ this will be run by Peter Harrison who has been a coach at Stanford’s We’ll shortly be announcing who will run the Masterclass in Australia and London.

If you want to read more, check out:


But wait, there’s more! The second tool is Agile Methodology.

In February 2001, a group of 17 software developers met in Utah and wrote a manifesto. This was about uncovering better ways of developing software. There were 12 principles in the manifesto:

  1. Customer satisfaction by rapid delivery of useful software
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development
  3. Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)
  4. Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers
  5. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
  6. Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
  7. Working software is the principal measure of progress
  8. Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
  10. Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
  11. Self-organizing teams
  12. Regular adaptation to changing circumstance

There are a number of tools and techniques that now form part of using Agile in your workplace including daily scrums, sprints (2 week plans), kanban boards (for tasks), time-boxing, iterative and incremental development and having cross-functional teams, squads or guilds.

The great news is that Agile no longer belongs to the world of developers. It has broken out! In Sweden the Agile HR movement has been running for several years and now we’d like to build NZ, UK and Australian Agile HR communities. At the HRGC there will be an Agile Masterclass so you can learn the basics of Agile and experience some of the tools yourself.

We’re very excited to have Pia-Maria Theron who runs the Agile HR in Sweden, presenting at the London HRGC and in NZ we have Edwin Dando who is a Scrum trainer and runs Agile NZ. There will also be case studies in the MasterClass of HR and people leaders who are using Agile to achieve amazing results.

For more about Agile I recommend the Wikipedia page which has links to many of the methods:


If HR is going to transform, then it needs to look outside to see what tools could do this. I believe design thinking and agile are the HR tools of the future!

To book your place at the conference visit

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This entry was posted on April 9, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .

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