Forget the differences:

Design Thinking and Agile are for all generations

Forget the differences: Design Thinking and Agile are for all generations

Perry Timms, Founder and Chief Energy Officer at PTHR elaborates on human-centric design and argues that organisations should challenge norms to create better working environments for now and in the future.

I’m going to combine my two sessions at CIPD’s new Festival Of Work into this post. So the shameless plugs are:


To say I’m really pleased about being invited to participate in these two areas, is a total understatement. I’m thrilled, honoured and genuinely can’t wait until this event gets going.

Why? Well, I believe strongly in more progressive ways to design organisations many of which look less-hierarchical and I also loathe the fixation on generational differences. We are NOT defined by the years we were born in, just as organisations do not operate as the organisation chart thinks it does.

This short blog post does not give away too much of what I’ll share at the event if you’ve already booked onto it (thanks if you have). Nor does it aim to leave you begging but you can’t make it to the event or those sessions.

So my specific title for day one is this: Forget the differences: Design Thinking and Agile are for all generations. It is pretty trendy to talk about Design Thinking and Agile. Yet when you’re working with them in almost every project you have underway – which I am – then it’s beyond the hype, trend and myth and into applied, discovery-based ways of working with more inclusion, progressive thinking and focused effort.

So if you’re interested in whether your HR, OD, L&D work should have a lift or adaptation by using a Design Thinking and/or Agile ways of creating new things, I’d urge some research into it and a practice on something you’d love to get going (but can’t make this session).

In my experiences of using Design Thinking and/or Agile, has this been taken to best by younger people because it’s new or older people because they’re experienced?  No, nonsense. And that’s the point I’ll make with some science behind it: about how we as human beings interoperate and connect.

Then onto the session on day two where I’m less the provocateur and more the facilitator. Organisation Design fascinates me. How we design organisations is arguably more sophisticated than early industrial constructs, yet nowhere near enough for my liking.

So in this session we’ll look at how organisation design and operating models are more a spectrum than an either/or. It’s about versions rather than A or B and what’s behind those who have taken a line further along that spectrum than others.

My own personal view is that the hierarchical construct, the silos of functional divisions in play within organisations and the utilisation of bureaucracy and internalised protocols are choking modern business and causing undue harm to people in overbearing stresses and inculcating behaviours in people that are not at all productive, positive and useful to a purposeful life.

Work is <rightly in many cases> demonised as being the cause of those stresses and poor behaviours. When my view it’s the design of work (and thereby the organisation) that causes those things. We all work, even without a salary. Carers, missionaries – we all do some form of work.  How we design it when we love it as an extension of our very selves, is different from how we design it when it becomes an economic machine of any sort.

That’s why I’m drawn to organisation designs that bring more human-centred approaches to them and not just about the efficiency and optimisation of financial surplus that drives design.

I think this will be a fascinating challenge to power, flow, and energy within organisations. If there is such a thing as a design revolution in work, then this session will provide a live trailer to that ongoing “box set”.

Hope to see you at Olympia London on 12-13 June – the place to be if you want to design your future and the organisations you are a part of.

Perry TimmsPerry Timms is a global & TEDx speaker and consultant on the future of work, HR & learning which was recognised by his inclusion on HR’s Most Influential Thinkers List for 2017 and 2018.  Perry’s first book “Transformational HR” has already become an Top 30 HR seller.





Get involved:

The CIPD’s Festival of Work (12-13 June 2019, Olympia London, promises to be a landmark event for both people professionals and business leaders. By focusing on the most innovative strategies in management, technology and learning, the festival will help you, and 7,000 of your colleagues, to harness the latest transformations and drive a human future of work. With 7,000+ attendees, 160+ inspiring speakers, filled with inspirational live experiences and challenging ideas, it’s the ultimate celebration of people in the workplace.


Register for your free exhibition pass or book a conference pass.

To submit a blog for consideration please email

For more information on sponsorship, exhibition or partnership opportunities contact +44 (0)208 267 3201 or email

Leave a Reply