Agile working

The PACE values at CIPD

You probably haven’t heard of PACE, but everyone who works for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development certainly has. They are the values underpin everything we aim to do and to be at CIPD, they run through our corporate culture like the words ‘Brighton’ through a stick of rock.

The PACE values are on display throughout the CIPD HQ in Wimbledon, on posters and stencilled onto the wall in our ‘OpenSpace’ coffee shop. This jaunty acronym stands for

Ever since I joined CIPD two and a half years ago I’ve been mulling over the PACE values, what they really mean, how we put them into practice, specifically in relation to the projects that define the work of the digital production team.

And over the next four posts I’m going to explore those musings and conclusions I’ve come to.

We are agile

I’ll admit, it took me a while to ‘get it’, but it’s with ‘agile’ that the worlds of running digital projects and CIPD’s values mesh most harmoniously together.

The Agile Manifesto was published in 2001 and has proved to be so successful and ubiquitous in software development circles that its methods and principles have been adopted into general business management; in particular the focus on customer centricity, facilitation-based management, iterative and incremental working methods, outcomes based evaluation, greater individual autonomy and collaboration.

In fact we might say we’ve entered ‘the agile age’, where organisational agility, nimbleness, responsiveness are the watch words for survival in the face of ‘transient competitive advantage’ (Rita Gunther McGrath).

The Agile Manifesto argues that software projects succeed when self-organised teams of motivated individuals come together and work within a supportive environment built on trust.

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
(The Agile Manifesto, principle #5 )
The best architectures, requirements and designs emerge from self-organisting teams.
(The Agile Manifesto, principle #11)
Agile teams rely on self-organisation, customer centricity, knowledge sharing, collaboration and mutual trust.

Agile working might be a bit of a buzz word right now, but it isn’t just about flexible hours, or investing in the IT infrastructure to support remote working. Rather it’s about the wider adoption of the principles of the agile manifesto, of the hard won lessons of successful software development, into general business and people management practice.

‘Purposeful’ working

The PACE values at CIPD

You probably haven’t heard of PACE, but everyone who works for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development certainly has. They are the values underpin everything we aim to do and to be at CIPD, they run through our corporate culture like the words ‘Brighton’ through a stick of rock.

The PACE values are on display throughout the CIPD HQ in Wimbledon, on posters and stencilled onto the wall in our ‘OpenSpace’ coffee shop. This jaunty acronym stands for

  • Purposeful
  • Agile
  • Collaborative
  • Expert

Ever since I joined CIPD two and a half years ago I’ve been mulling over the PACE values, what they really mean, how we put them into practice, specifically in relation to the projects that define the work of the digital production team.

And over the next four posts I’m going to explore those musings and conclusions I’ve come to.

We are Purposeful

So let’s start with our first value, purposeful.

purposeful: we have clear goals and finish what we start

The PACE values: Purposeful, as it appears on the wall in CIPD’s OpenSpace coffeeshop

I have a bit of a problem with ‘purposeful’. Let’s face it, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. Purposeful means ‘determined and resolved’. But synonyms often hint at the darker side of any word’s meaning, and for purposeful we get single minded, inflexible, strong willed, hell-bent. Oh dear.

We have clear goals and finish what we start. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Until you think about it a bit more.

Let’s not Carry On Regardless

carry on team in carry on regardless

There is a very human tendency to carry on regardless, to finish something even if it’s not working or no longer needed. For anyone working on projects – whether digital or otherwise – this is something to be mindful of.

The project management methodology PRINCE2 can sometimes be seen as inflexible and bureaucratic compared to Agile, but it encourages the continual re-evaluation of the business case (the purpose of your project), and insists that projects should stop if they’re no longer valid.

Agile development methodology – in many ways the counterpoint to PRINCE2 – takes a slightly different approach. Rather than assessment against a definitive business case, it embraces changing requirements throughout a project. Changes that emerge from customer interactions with working software and the business’s changing priorities. It is the capacity to re-adjust and re-calibrate projects that delivers better, customer-centred solutions.

The other human tendency that bedevils project work is perfectionism. In seeking perfection we often expend more and more energy at the end of a process to achieve smaller and smaller gains. So I like this, the 10th Principle from the Agile Manifesto:

Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential.

But if you’re working with evolving requirements, if you’re seeking simplicity over complexity, how do you ever know when good is good enough? All projects need a set of clear outcomes that you can measure your output against – well defined success criteria.

So I like the first half of the PACE definition of Purposeful: We have clear goals.

The Agile Manifesto also emphasises building in incremental improvements to the development process (Principle #12). Teams should ask themselves: what went well and what didn’t go so well in the last sprint and re-calibrate and readjust working methods and the project accordingly.

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.

We Are Purposeful v0.2

So it might be a bit wordy to stencil onto the wall, but perhaps we should add some qualifying statements. We have clear goals and finish what we start…

  • but we know that sometimes it’s better to stop.
  • we re-adjust and re-calibrate along the way.
  • we know when good is good enough.