How Agile Education Creates a Future Agile Workforce

AGILE education = AGILE business
Azra Meyer

On 16 January 2021, I attended the Hochschule für agile Bildung - HfaB’s wonderfully organized and completely interactive virtual training course “Agilität und Bildung." We used “Hopin” and “Miro” online tools to discuss what it means to be agile. We also shared experiences from the worlds of education and business. And it was immediately clear to me that we should bring these two worlds together and use educational tools in business to transform a customer into a student again; to encourage the learning process because that is what being Agile means:

Accept that learning is an integral part of working!

One great, virtual Agile tool introduced by the company TBF was the:

“Exploring Together” map

How Agile education creates Blog post Image, Exploring together map
Image Source: TBF

  • This map is used collaboratively with the customer to discuss the project roadmap: what works well, what needs to be improved, what goal on the map needs to be committed to, and where they want to be in a given time period. This is a visual representation of the customer’s journey and commitment, thus giving them autonomy and increases transparency within the entire company.
  • Hang a physical “Explore Together “ map in the customer’s hallways and post it digitally to all employees. Ask everyone to add their comments/suggestions using post-its. This increases collaboration and everyone feels valued - his/her opinion matters.

Furthermore, it was very encouraging to see that increasingly more educational systems (primary, secondary schools, high schools and universities) are leaning towards agile education. And to realize that they experience the same successes and challenges that we do in the world of agile business.

I’ve noticed that some parallels between agile education and agile business lay in challenges to:

  • create meaningful backlogs of teaching topics/workload and divide them into realistic sprints
  • have purposeful reviews: check the knowledge/present the sprint result
  • carry out retrospectives with students/team members after a completed sprint
  • encourage the “fail fast” policy and deal with students/team members and teachers/bosses who have problems overcoming the fear of failure
  • create psychological safety where students/team members won’t feel judged if mistakes are made
  • teach and live the culture of constant and iterative change towards improvement

What I learned at this training is that agile teaching methods create room for students to be creative and develop skills absolutely necessary to enter the industry later on. Skills I mean are critical thinking, collaborative work, work on the “pull” principle vs. waiting for someone to tell you what needs to be done, readiness and openness to try and learn new things. These are the crucial skills every employee should have, hence the need to combine the worlds of education and business early on.

Let’s hope that agile teaching methods will also be able to introduce a new way of evaluating the knowledge; to move away from traditional “grades” and ranking of students based on numbers from 1-6, and to a more motivating evaluation via “proof of competence” in a certain field. Because it is exactly these competencies that young people will need when they enter the agile workforce.

Further reading:

Header Image by Sigmund on Unsplash