As is the case in many organisations, Agile methodologies were initially adopted by the Technology Team at River Island. They achieved excellent results very quickly, which gave way to curiosity at Senior Leadership level as to how it could be utilised in different areas of the business.
With over 60 years of fashion retailing experience, River Island has 350+ stores across the UK, Ireland and internationally throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe, as well as six dedicated online sites operating in four currencies.
Pioneering Agile in HR
To expand the organisations awareness and understanding of Agile, the Technology Team delivered a series of presentations to colleagues showcasing how it can be used, and what can be achieved. This instantly caught the attention of the HR Team.
After reading Jeff Sutherland’s book The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, members of the HR Team attended agil8’s Certified ScrumMaster course delivered by David Hicks.
“Having developed our skills, knowledge and understanding of the principles and practices of Agile and Scrum, the team were ready to experiment. We were about to embark on a huge project, which needed to be broken down into manageable chunks – and so as part of our first exploration, we decided to just try a single Sprint and see what we could achieve.”
“We were curious to explore if and how the same principles and practices could be applied to our own function. We wanted to pioneer Agile in a completely different area of the business – to just give it a try and see what happened. We weren’t afraid to fail, which in itself demonstrated an Agile mindset.”
Nebel Crowhurst – Head of Talent
Applying Agile to HR in Practice
Rather than just sampling a few aspects of Agile, the HR and Learning & Development Team fully committed to applying Scrum to their workload and day to day working:
Scrum Masters and Product Owners are appointed on an individual basis depending on the needs of the respective project
Daily stand-ups via skype
Face to face monthly Sprint planning and review meetings
Creating and working-through product backlogs, reviewing and prioritising items to work on the following month
“Working collaboratively on large projects has always been challenging as we are a cross-functional service, with members of the team physically located in various premises, so we could clearly see the benefits of adopting Agile.” (Nebel Crowhurst)
Impact and Benefits
In addition to improved project delivery, the HR and Learning & Development Team have also experienced a number of less-obvious benefits following their Agile transformation:
Significant improvements to project delivery, with with more streamlined ways of working and quicker delivery times
Previous ways of working in silos have been replaced by genuine cross-functional collaboration
Greatly improved team dynamics and bonding, simply due to regular communication through daily stand-ups
Successfully demonstrated to the rest of the business how Agile can effectively be used outside of Tech – subsequently encouraging and supporting the Retail Team to pilot their own of Agile transformation