The change of one word can make your culture shift

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When using the word resources, what do you think of? I think of nature’s resources and the money I have in the bank. Resources is by definition: means, a stock or supply of money, materials and other assets. How in any aspekt can people be considered resources?

The allocation of resources is a key element in traditional project management.  Resource allocation takes no considerations to human needs or changes. For that you will require a separate risk analysis and change management process. I think you understand where I’m going with this.

One of my agile coach friends started repeating to the managers in the organisation we were coaching ”People are not resources” ”People are people that have capacity to do things”. And this stuck.

We can not continue treating humans as numbers in a excel sheet if we want to accelerate our businesses. We have to start talking about them as people, humans, employees.  Today I correct and repeat. And I use the words that the organisation often have as well, the co-worker, the clients, the employees. It just has to be a word that describes the people for all our qualities and not just the number of hours we can produce.

Because does a allocated number mean you are getting value? No. So we have no way of knowing if we are actually creating something of value to our customers and organisation just by optimizing our use of ”resources”.

Humans are intelligent thinkers and in the age of information and technology they are smarter than ever. So why do we put them in systems that only count their heads and not their contribution and value creation? Traditional organisations must realize this is a new age and treating people like numbers is not the best use of their capacity.

Agile ways allocate resources (money, budgets) on teams.  This creates an environment where people can use their intelligence and adapt to the changing needs of the customers and make decisions and act within the teams budget without change management or high risk, every day. It also makes budgeting real easy when separating the budgeting from what needs to be done to create value.

By shifting just one word you can create a culture shift where everyone starts being considerate of peoples needs and adapting to them. Both the needs from our employees  and the needs of our customers.

So stop calling people resources, they are not!  People are people. And they have tremendous amount of capacity to spend if we let them.

If we treat them like humans they might even stay, feel happy and make a difference.

Isabelle Svärd, Agile coach

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