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Catch A Falling Star: Perks Of Using A Team of “Hidden Stars” For Your Next Agile Project

Does your company have that one person who everyone loves, everyone wants to work with; the hive mind of information that just makes working on a project so much easier? There always seems to be one person that stands out.

Or even back at school, do you remember that student that had the heart of every teacher, somehow skilled at everything, the crown jewel of the year group, and an asset for inter-pupil revision in anticipation for the final exams.

You’d think that they’re the ideal candidate for any form of project, especially an agile project where there is stress on communication, and honing one’s skills to produce quick turnarounds etc. But, in a research project by Rob Cross, Heidi K Gardener, and Alia Crocker, where they “studied more than 140 companies, surveyed some 30,000 employees, and interviewed more than 100 leaders. The main problem [they] uncovered [was that] Traditional practices for framing, staffing, and executing agile projects are ineffective in company-wide initiatives.”

Being that person for an organisation is immensely laborious, you find yourself in a scenario where despite gaining nothing from a financial standpoint, your social status at work or school is elevated. You are asked for help tutoring students that struggle, because your assisting them will benefit both you and the party that is struggling. It’s the same at work, and I don’t just mean asking John to make you another mug of tea because he’s on his way to the kettle. No, I mean, Hannah, a seasoned employee with a desk covered in clutter, being pulled from pillar to post to provide your insight to a problem, and not necessarily being able to dedicate enough time to her own commitments within a company, due to being asked for favours.

This is not just my own observation from work and school, Cross, Gardener and Crocker found the same. Their analysis for Harvard Business Review acknowledged that “even when [star performers are] assigned exclusively to an agile project, star performers are constantly sought out by colleagues, often informally. The number and range of demands placed on star performers outside the agile project are seldom recognized. The risks of their burning out or failing because they’re stretched too thin are very high.”

As great as having a team player like Hannah on the team would be, particularly due to her vast array of experience, she would likely still be pushed to her limits due to other teams requiring her insight. Instead of asking her to be on the team, it was suggested by Cross, Gardener and Crocker to instead, look for the hidden gems, that they called “hidden stars”. They suggest “tap[ping into the network of] hidden stars, who possess the talent and contacts needed to develop and roll out an initiative but have much lower profiles in the organization and therefore are far less likely to be overloaded”.

You may wonder whether a network of hidden stars would actually be the best team in the organisation, but, Daniel Pink, author of The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, would certainly argue that they are. Pink says that in order to retain employee engagement, an employee needs to find their-self feeling like a valued member of the team, due to autonomy at work, mastery of their craft and skills or the feeling of purpose whilst doing their job. This would be the case should they be selected to focus their attention on a specific, special project, such as an agile project for the company. In being chosen to be part of this project, these hidden stars would be feeling valued, and would be given a chance to hone their skills, master their craft and adopt new ideas, learning from equally skilled employees in the company that they may not have previously interacted with.

You would therefore find yourself, and the members of your organisations learning how to become a network of skilled employees under the radar, new stars, up-and-coming within your company, and able to share their learnings with their teams, potentially lessening the stresses on pre-existing star employees, and make room for new hidden stars to get their own moment to shine.

After all, there is no “I” in team, and there is no “I” in “stars”.

Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (, 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:

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