Karl A L Smith

human knowledge belongs to the world

Agile does not reduce Headcount image man falling down from a hole of light

Agile does not Reduce Headcount

Agile Transformation and Change

Agile does not Reduce Headcount no matter who tells you that, this view sets the scene for failure. Unfortunately it’s a lie, best left to marketing materials and companies desperate for work.

People who make the claim to reduce headcount using Agile essentially hurl themselves into an abyss of data analytics. Using mythical numbers and magical number gerrymandering to avoid exposure. Audit will find out, but often too late to get any money back.

Agile does not reduce Headcount image man falling down from a hole of light

What does Agile do?

Does it speed up the delivery of work? No, sorry another myth. There are so many myths about Agile or Agile DevOps, DevSecOps, AgileFinOps and KnomeDevOps (I made up the last two, the last one being a joke).

Agile optimises the flow of work and focuses on acting on work (moving the status of the work from strategy to value delivered and not ownership of work. Agile surfaces work that does not deliver value, establishing transparency with a continuous delivery way of working.

For example when creating a report the delivery period may only be 6 weeks, in this case there would be a delivery on a weekly bases. That delivery in the first week may only be the index, document styling or some guidance documentation (later to be deleted). There would be a daily meeting of those involved, if only one person a department/area (financial rates) meeting where everyone say, what then are currently working on, if they have any problems or are unable to proceed for any reason. Solutions to individual problems are to shared in the meeting (6-8 people), the purpose is to air them. After the meeting one of the team with a dual role of facilitator takes people aside to see if a solution is possible there, someone may have said they have one during the meeting and will have waited until after to provide their insights. This allows people not involved to get on with their work rather than watch a resolution conversation. If a resolution is not possible it is taken to a team of teams meeting where all the facilitators try to state the issue as a risk, resolve, mitigate or accept the issue noting the potential impacts. This whole way of working quickly surfaces problems and deals with them. The current state of the work is always known, when complete the work is available for more work, if not complete there is a record of everything that happened to try and get it complete.

Headcount Reduction

Headcount is an odd way to measure effectiveness and value, but a common way in non Agile companies. Agile does not reduce headcount it optimises the working practices around the work, it automates and visulises management though milestone technologies like Jira and methods like Kanban (originally from manufacturing, adopted into software and now used for anything including wedding planning) that visualises the work allocation, work available to be done and transformation of work until done.


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