The Principles Underlying Agile Development

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

By Robert Bluett, Found and Chairman of People Plus Co., Ltd.


The Key Principle

Agile Management can be summed up as follows:

In an organization, the focus must be on the individual, not only for the individual’s sake, but because this is an essential business strategy. This is the only way a company can stay on top of constantly changing challenges in the marketplace.

In other words, every aspect of business depends on the human factor to make it happen. What we are aiming to do, therefore, is to improve organizational performance through individual personal growth.



Your company should already have in place a statement of its strategic objectives. You might call this statement a business plan or a company strategic plan or something else.

Your objectives may be expressed in words, but for each objective there must be one or more quantifiable targets to aim for. Targets are agreed on by the people in charge of running the company. We call these people the executive committee. They usually consists of all the department heads. The person in charge, and therefore the boss of the whole company, is the Chief Executive Officer (or CEO for short).

It is also important to give some thought to your organization’s core values. Your core values are the attitudes and beliefs that will drive your company culture. Your company culture is the typical way employees behave towards each other, and which characterizes the company as a whole.

As you will be asking your employees to fit into your company culture, it is in your own interests to decide what you want those core values to be.

Finally, your company needs some kind of statement of the policies and procedures according to which everyday work should be carried out. Be warned, however, that this document by itself will not ensure that your business is either successful or sustainable.

Key Concepts

Several conceptual threads that needs a attention to :

  • A focus on employee engagement (and indirectly on customer engagement).

  • Identifying and developing each employee’s strengths to create a strength-based organization – one in which most employees are doing what they are good at most of the time. (We call this working to your strengths.)

  • A focus on the five stakeholders, in other words the five critical players in any sustainable business: customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers, the environment and society.

The five stakeholders
Here follows a quick history of where the “five stakeholders” standard has come from.

For a long time a company’s shareholders were the only ones given any real attention. Then, with increased globalization, new competitors arrived and existing companies lost market share to them. As a result, the customers – who now had a choice – started to be taken more seriously. At the same time the competitors began to tempt away the best employees, so employees too were recognized as critical to the sustainable success of a business. 
The next development was that competition for resources highlighted the importance of suppliers. It was clearly a good idea to start treating them as the enterprise’s long-term partners.

The increasing occurrence of extreme weather conditions like floods and droughts has since then highlighted the importance of the raw materials suppliers rely on, which led to the environment being counted as a stakeholder for the first time since the start of the industrial age.

The latest – although maybe not the last – evolution has been the way society judges the company brand, that is, the ethics and values a company’s leadership is seen to be promoting. Society has become one more stakeholder whose opinion could make or break an organization.

The five stakeholders are an essential aspect of long-term, sustainable success when applying the principles of Agile Management.

The Five Essential Activities of Agile Management

Here is a summary of what each of these means in brief:


Selection includes both recruitment and promotion. The qualities assessed in a candidate are both the "can-do" factors (including education and experience) and the "will-do" factors (like personality and attitude).

Establishing a strong, positive company brand has got to be your very first step in recruiting people, because this is how your company is perceived in the job market. If your company has a strong brand, it will attract sufficient numbers of high-quality potential employees with very little effort, because your brand will already be out there, doing the job for you. If your company brand is not strong, you can advertise as much as you like – at huge expense – and still attract very few (if any) high-quality people.

Once you have a pool of high-quality people who would love to work at your company, then you can begin the selection process. If there are no high-quality people in the pool then no matter how good your selection process, you will never get this kind of person interested in joining your company.


Having identified the potential – both realized and latent – of an individual, it is important to develop this potential so that both the person and the company benefit from it. Training, coaching, and mentoring are all used to this effect.

The best indicator of the depth and quality of talent in your organization is whether you can grow your own stars from within – not whether you can buy talented outsiders in a crisis. The latter may provide brilliance, but not for long, since they typically move on to greener pastures. The best sign of a company with great human assets was the ease with which any executive it lost to competition could be replaced from the company’s backup staffers and understudies.


Motivation is a vital part of developing the individual.

Our experience has shown that there is no simple formula for motivating people, because you are dealing with human beings – each one a complex creature with his/her own past history. But we have uncovered several factors that are very effective in creating a motivated workforce.

Keeping the Big Picture in mind

Motivation is about far more than adjusting salaries to local conditions and matching them to your organization’s strategic targets.

  • Employees need to be able to align their key behaviors with your company’s core values.

  • You must be willing to invest in the development of individual employees and their teams. This includes helping them to find out what their strengths are, and work to these strengths. This approach has been shown time and again to create a strong sense of engagement and loyalty.

Performance is a result of behavior, and behavior comes from attitudes, which to a large extent come from values.
  • You must have systems in place to measure actual performance against targeted performance. This is valuable information you cannot do without.


Attracting talented people is easy once your systems for Selection, Development and Motivation are in place and working well.

If you don’t get this right, selection is always going to be extremely difficult, because if you only attract unsuitable people, then no matter how efficient and effective your selection process is, it will be impossible to put the right person in the right job at the right time.


The retention of high quality people is important! Employees are happier and more effective when, in Agile Management terms, they are "working to their strengths"; in other words, they are good at what they do. Equally, you need to be aware of the people who are in jobs for which they are not suited ("working to their weaknesses"). Putting each individual to work in a position where they work to their strengths is critical to the motivation and output of the entire team.

The biggest challenge in implementing the principles of Agile Management is not that the ideas are complex or difficult; it’s simply the human tendency to resist change and uncertainty. This means that if you want to introduce Agile Management into your organization successfully, the employees have to be involved in creating and carrying out the changes. This is another very important aspect – participative management. 

People Plus in partnership with the Master in Business Innovation Program at Bangkok University, Thailand

In collaboration with the Bangkok University, People Plus support the students to gain a “shared understanding” of the “Principle” of People Management, and to then conduct research to support the best option on how their collective ideas lead to sustainable development in the future.

Key areas of focus are:

  1. Understanding People Management Issues.

  2. Alignment of sustainable future development.

  3. The Core of People Management.

  4. Helping to create the “best option” company to address the issues of People Management.

The MBI Students will work on redesigning an existing toolkit for agile human capital management to make it better fit the needs of a) fast-growing start-up ventures, and b) mature corporation willing to creatively transform their culture and reinvent themselves to avoid ‘creative destruction’ (Schumpeter) in the innovation age.

The students who participate in the program originate from countries throughout the World. Their challenge is to define the best way forward to ensure the successful strategic development of Talent Management in companies in the face of ever accelerating rates of change.

We have a very insightful, lively discussions and clear insights in this diverse group of future executives are an inspiration regarding future innovation.

This program runs from January 30, to June 30, 2021.

For more information about our specialized programs for Undergraduate or Graduate programs, please contact us here.

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