When you take a road trip, you plan out your stops, stays and side trips. You maybe plan too many activities or you pack the car a little too full. You get better at road trips the more you take them. You figure out who you want in the car with you, who should navigate and who is better at planning the meals.
As the first HR Agile team, we set out for a road trip of our own in some ways. We got better at planning our work. We figured out who had what strengths. We didn't get lost as much. When we took side trips, we knew why.
Now, we are unpacking our bags and setting out for our own adventures; better prepared, better equipped, and far more agile. For this, we are eternally grateful. We reached our destination, just a little sooner than we planned.
Our team is an example of a new paradigm pushing the limits of traditional business models. We have been navigating this new territory for weeks. How do we recreate a process seeped in tradition and relationships? How do we work faster and adapt to changes quickly? How do we influence teams to switch gears and adjust to new ideas, strategy, focus and direction?
We've answered these questions with a question: "why not try?" We've adopted new ways of looking at HR and clearly see and know how Agile methodologies can transform the industry. This doesn't mean we haven't encountered speed bumps. We've shared our realities - we work with people, we need a simplified technology to visualize work and collaborate, Sprints are too confining but we also need structure.
As we shared in our last update, Week 11 was all about re-prioritizing our work. We were in good shape! Product testing on our 1st Release was underway and Release 2 plans were moving forward. Scrumban was our everyday normal. Our groomed backlog was ready to go, we had a retrospective under our belts and momentum was building as curious customers came forward to ask more about our products.
And just like that, an unexpected ending. This week we learned that our HR Agile team will be re-deployed and with that, we will each shift to navigate new adventures. Over the next few months, we are focusing our energy on capturing everything we've learned, gathering our recommendations and asking ourselves how we'll infuse Agile in to our future work.
A note to our support team, leaders, and cheerleaders:
Thank you for this opportunity to be a pilot in a pilot. We tested and we learned a great deal. Some of you are still with us and some of you have left the company. We hope you are reading this and have learned from our journey as much as we have learned from it. Your support gave us the confidence to shoot for the stars. Your challenge gave us the courage to tackle work in new ways. We learned, grew, and saw success in ways we wouldn't have, had we not felt you had our back. We are grateful for this experience and wouldn't trade it for anything.
To our fabulous 'customers':
Thank you for your encouragement, enthusiasm, commitment, and for testing our products! Thanks for coming to visit our office and asking about our work. We can't thank you enough for giving us the push that we needed at some key times in our work. Keep iterating on our work. Play with new ideas, test and learn. Keep what you want alive and throw the rest out!
A note to our coach, Doc List:
Where to begin? You stood us up, you gave us the nudge forward and when we fell you taught us how to pick ourselves back up. Soon we ran, maybe even sooner than we thought we would, thanks to your easy going way of teaching. You allowed us to be us. You were there, cheering us on, giving us words of wisdom and encouragement when we needed it most. We could not have done this without you by our side. You are our teacher, trusted advisor, our friend, our crazy father at times, and we love you for all of the roles you played. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We hope that we will always be a part of your hearts as you are in ours.
Coming up with ideas to flip hiring on its head
Learning a new way of working
"Ocelots for life!"
(**Ocelots was our internal scrum team name)
WHAT WE LEARNED:
The hiring process is old and stale and needs a transformation
Agile does work in HR
Stay focused and deliver work in times of change
Trust not only speeds up a team, it allows a safe space to nurture fresh thinking
A note from each Ocelot team member ...
Ashley - This assignment was so much more than a project. It was a new way of learning, of doing, of implementing work, of delivering results. This is an example of Gap Inc at it's very best: innovative, risk-taking, cutting edge. We did that and more with this HR AGILE team. I am forever changed not only because of the way we learned to work, but because of these ladies: Erica, Laura, Kaitlin, and Tannis - brilliant, confident, funny women. We learned, laughed, cried, worked hard, and produced some game-changing outcomes. No one else out there has been given the chance to flip recruiting on its head - we did that. I am a better leader and person because of this experience. Thank you Gap Inc and team for that.
Erica - I accepted this assignment knowing the risks and hoping the rewards would outweigh the risks. They did. To say that I am grateful for this experience would be an understatement. What our team built and experienced is something that has forever changed who I am as a person. I am so proud of what we accomplished in our short time together. I became WE. We became a team, we came up with new ways of working and big ideas, we delivered great work in a quick and iterative way, we gave it everything we had. We learned everyday - we grew - we saw ourselves in each other - we made connections for life - we learned Agile does work in HR. Thank you Ocelots! Thank you Gap Inc.!
Kaitlin - All of my work with Gap Inc. has been navigating uncharted waters. This time, it wasn't just new for Gap Inc., it was unexplored territory in the discipline of HR. The praise and interest we received externally reinforced what we felt in our room every day: this work had the capacity to be game changing. For me, it was always about more than learning Agile. I learned what it feels like to be a part of a true high-performing team. I got to learn from Ashley, Erica, Laura, Tannis and Tanya - bright, kind, diverse, thriving women - while designing and delivering work with pride. I learned as much about organizational health as my own: how one can deliver success effectively, cope adequately, change appropriately, and grow from within. It ended too quickly, and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. I'm left with deep gratitude for this opportunity and who it's made me.
Laura - It's very unlike me to make a career decision in a few hours, but when I was presented this opportunity, I couldn't pass it up. My challenge was to do something unique in Agile - be a hybrid team member or 50% dedicated. I will never regret the attempt. And even though I was away from the Agile team a few hours of every day, I have learned more in 12 weeks than I could ever absorb and apply in years. I know I will never approach work the same way and I'm a better person and teammate for taking this chance. We created something special, we created a team which threw out crazy ideas, pushed out work FAST and helped each other navigate life, while laughing a little bit along the way. Our connections will remain as we explore new roles and for this, and so much more, I am truly grateful. My efforts to divide my work would not have been possible without complete trust and support from both of my teams - Talent Tech Solutions, you were my home base and Ocelots you allowed me to fly - you create my 50/50 balance. THANK YOU!!!
Tannis - Coming from a marketing background where being nimble and forward thinking was deeply ingrained in the work, I was drawn to the opportunity to be on this team and learn how to implement Agile in an non-software development team. It was a new challenge, not only for me personally, but a new challenge in the industry. Is it possible to work in a more efficient way? To deliver on priorities faster, and pivot to new projects seamlessly? As someone who loves solving problems, and improving processes... I was incredibly excited about working on this pilot team. I am so grateful to have learned agile and worked with this team, and know that the way that I work, and the way that I lead, will forever be better for having been a part of this. You don't often get offered the opportunity to step out of the norm... but once you do... it's hard to imagine ever going back.