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God’s Own County – Yorkshire And The Agile Mindset

11-Sep-2015 18:00:00 Agile mindset Agile
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I live near to Headingley Stadium in Leeds. It’s an arty, culturally diverse suburb which also happens to be the home of Yorkshire Cricket and the Leeds Rhinos Rugby league club. I’ve lived here for the last 15 years and have raised my three kids in the shadows of the floodlights and within earshot of the trumpeters, who can oft be heard heralding the arrival of the King of Yorkshire, Geoffrey Boycott, when he takes his seat on the Yorkshire throne room in Headingley pavilion.

However, I was born and raised in the Midlands, which, if you clumsily had to pin it as an UK geography of its own right to a ‘Northern’ or a ‘Southern’ mast, would probably fall into the category of the former. I think that is why I settled in Yorkshire so easily.

 Yorkshire is a very welcoming place and, since moving here, I have found that I do many of the things that other Yorkshire folk do, thereby sharing a sense of cultural belonging from ‘doing’ the things that create a shared identity.

For example, I love Cricket and enthusiastically support Yorkshire, I am a convert from Rugby Union to Rugby League and attend regular Rhinos games (I have to draw the line with Leeds Utd however, there has to be some standard here...). Until very recently I owned a whippet, I drink Yorkshire Tea and I once even holidayed in Scarborough over the Costa’s! I go walking in the Moors, I have a penchant for Yorkshire ale and I think, just once, I even had a nosebleed while crossing the border into Lancashire on the M62.

But no matter how much I do things which other Yorkshiremen do, I will never be a Yorkshireman, because ‘doing’ is not ‘being’.

I remember being involved in a sales pitch many years ago when, as a junior salesperson, I accompanied my boss from that time to a meeting with a company in Bradford. We gave a slick overview of our company and services and batted away every difficult question thrown at us. It was one of those pitches which just feels right, when you know everyone is on the same page and a long and prosperous business relationship is just around the corner.

Or not.

Just as we were packing up the projector and about to leave, the company CEO asked my boss from that time where he was from.

Now my boss, John, was a good man. He was fair, capable, personable and bright. But for some inexplicable reason he answered the question with the fateful words…

“I’m from Yorkshire”.

“Where in Yorkshire are you from?” asked the company CEO in genuine interest, as the end of meeting chit-chat and niceties continued.

“Well, I live in Leeds”, said John, “although officially I was born in Somerset, but I’ve been here for the last 25 years, my children are all born here and so I consider myself an adopted Yorkshireman”.

There was a collective sharp intake of breath, then absolute silence. Tumbleweed floated across the board room, quizzical expressions developed across the faces of the company executives and then finally, after an agonising wait, the CEO, as chief judge and chief executioner, rose from his seat and offered the fateful words:

“In Yorkshire John… we don’t adopt.”

Well, needless to say, we didn’t win that particular piece of work. And while it makes for an amusing anecdote, indeed one I always enjoy retelling to my ‘native’ Yorkshire friends, it does capture the essence of Yorkshire. People here are not adopted. They are Yorkshiremen or they are not, it is as simple as that.
People from all over the UK and beyond relocate to this great county, for its great people, great hospitality and great opportunities. But as welcome as they will be made to feel, they will never be considered Yorkshiremen and women.

How many companies can we all think of who have a Yorkshire style divide in terms of the way Agile is done? Individuals and teams, some of whom are ‘doing’ all the right Agile practices but not fully embracing the Agile mindset, which is the ‘being’ of Agile.

How often do we see a highly capable contractor hired into a team to do ‘a job’ which is done with great effectiveness, but is done to the detriment of building an effective Agile mindset across the team, because the contractor is ‘doing’ and not ‘being’ Agile?

Unlike Yorkshire, Agile does adopt, and the more people and organisations adopt the Agile mindset, the more benefit Agile will deliver. In fact some of the best Agile teams I have ever known are to be found in Yorkshire companies. Maybe that sense of ‘being’ gives them something the rest of us could all learn from.

What we can do at Radtac is help you really ‘be’ Agile, rather than just ‘do’ Agile. Our Certified Associates have the full Agile mindset and help you achieve the same mindset, so that your implementation of Agile in your organisation can be successful.

Have you had any experience with people ‘doing’ something without ‘being’ that something?


Gustav Bjorkeroth

Gustav Bjorkeroth

“What I enjoy about life at Radtac is working with some of the most motivated and innovative people in the industry today” Gus is first and foremost a Dad to 3 young kids, a lover of early German (and slightly niche) electronic music and a big armchair sports fan. When he is not droning on about Leicester City Football Club, the England Cricket Team or starting an office fight over politics, he is occasionally found doing a bit of work! Gus is responsible at Radtac for the development and management of our Radtac Certified Associate offering and for the delivery of strategic business initiatives. He splits his time between our London and Leeds offices. Gus brings to Radtac a wealth of experience in sales, talent management and project delivery. Before joining Radtac, Gus worked for a number of entrepreneurial services companies, and founded and built a recruitment business. Gus is a CSM, CSPO and Scaled Agilist. Read more