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Agile Is A Labour Of Love: The Labour Party And An Agile Future


Agile practice made its way into UK political news circles on 17th August 2021, when the Labour Party announced that they were seeking to implement agile practice in order to “prepare and deliver elections”.


Kate Proctor, the current political editor of Politics Home and The House Magazine, and former editor of The Guardian and Evening Standard has been on the social media platform Twitter since 2009. On 17th August 2021, she shared tweets which expressed that the labour party are hoping to implement agile practice. The tone used in the tweets was sceptical as she expressed the fact that this transformation would involve the termination of ninety jobs, and encourage the team, which would have been downsized due to “huge financial pressures” to feel empowered and encouraged at work:


“You can imagine how a presentation to Labour staff on job cuts telling them to work in a more agile + multi-disciplinary way and for some teams to adopt a product mind-set with agile ceremonies” has gone down. Some feel the party is moving further away from the ground than ever.”


“Labour is shedding 90 jobs due to huge financial pressures but staff being told with less workers they can turn things round with new ways of working to ‘prepare and deliver elections’. That is fi they can work out the below…”


“these teams will adopt a product mind-set using agile ceremonies, be empowered to make decision and encouraged to focus on rapid prototyping, deployment and iteration”


Within the first three hours of posting those two tweets the former had 36 replies, and the latter had 169. And in the process of writing this article these numbers increased to 38 and 173. Although the comments are predominantly filled with fellow sceptics echoing the sentiments of Proctor, there were people defending agile practice, and some, who could not see the application outside of its original home of software development.


So, we have decided to unpick the quoted passage Proctor shared:


“these teams will adopt a product mind-set using agile ceremonies, be empowered to make decision and encouraged to focus on rapid prototyping, deployment and iteration”


It is likely this transformation has been made in order to avoid Kier Starmer being criticised in a similar way to his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, who was seen to be too vague when explaining what his version of labour was. Starmer is striving to make sure his labour is clear, understandable and direct. In order to do this in the most efficient way he has adopted agile practice.


The teams that Proctor is referring to is the newly reshuffled Labour party, where individuals with different skills are interacting with each other to deliver information to figureheads, members of parliament, members of the public, the media etc. This means daily stand-ups will be performed, information likely being shared like ripples in a pond, small teams getting information from the source, and it being directly distributed outward, allowing individuals to ask questions, and have concerns, queries and miscommunications nipped at the bud. It would allow for certainty in understanding the wants and the ethos of the party in anticipation of the next election in order to recover from a loss of seats during previous ones.


The adoption of agile practice, especially at the scale of the Labour Party will not be immediate, but by declaring the change, and stressing its necessity, we know that a transformation in the way that Labour works today, will likely change, and although this transformation is a marathon and not a sprint, ironically, it will not be prompt. Instead changes will be nuanced, understated, and slow, and we will likely not see the impact of the change, and how it reflects Starmer’s leadership practices until the next General Election results are released.



Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.


He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.


The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.


To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address: arvind@theagileworks.com


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