Using Agile Principles to Develop Company Culture Part 1: Introduction


Tessa Cooper, the Director of People and Culture at FutureLearn* discusses why she believes agile working principles can be used to develop company culture. This is her introduction to a series of posts.

Many of the individual principles and practices that are promoted by agile development have been around for years, even decades. “Agile development” is an umbrella term for several iterative and incremental software development methodologies which all share core values. It’s ultimately about developing software through iteration, continuous feedback and evolution. Agile methodologies are now fairly commonplace in software development teams. Yet the principles and practices are yet to be adopted more broadly in the workplace.

Our company values were created less than 6 months ago and they are woven into the fabric of FutureLearn

 I first took on the role of Organisational Development Lead at FutureLearn. Then recently I was promoted to Director of People and Culture. Having worked in agile development teams as a product manager for 4 years and seen the benefits of adopting agile practices, I was keen to see if the agile principles could also translate more broadly in how we develop our overarching company culture and support our people to work effectively together towards our company mission. Good news: they did. And over this series of posts, I’ll be sharing some examples of how.

In particular I’ll share how I’ve been helping develop our company culture using the following four agile manifesto values:
  • “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”
    In this post I’ll explore why hiding behind email and tools makes companies less efficient . And how putting time into interactions with individuals can make a company more effective.
  • “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation”
    Here I’ll be looking at employees as the ‘customer’. And how we’ve engaged staff in developing company culture through practical activities, workshops, surveys, and Random Coffees!
  • “Working software over comprehensive documentation”
    In my post on this, I’ll explore how experimenting with ways of working, showing people that change is possible and listening to feedback will help your team or company to operate better than any documentation will.
  • “Responding to change over following a plan”
    And finally I’ll be sharing why in the modern workplace setting a mission and purpose for your individual work is more important than setting down a six-month plan or endless to-do list.

read part 2 here.

If you like my posts, want to share your ideas or want to ask me some questions just leave me a comment below or drop me an email at

this article was first shared here
* FutureLean is an online training platform teaching courses in everything from coding to languages, to Shakespeare, to genetics

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