[July 2019] Embracing the Agile Mindset

By Isabel Valle, Founder and Peak Performance Strategist,Global Room


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Enable the Shift from “Doing” to “Being” Agile by Changing Mindset and Team Culture with Empowerment, Collaboration, Continuous Learning, and Intrinsic Motivation.

Do you want to empower and engage teams to achieve unprecedented levels of productivity, quality, and engagement? Then adopting and agile mindset might be just what you need.

Your organisation may already be on an Agile journey or interested in getting to know more about this concept. You may have started to use an Agile working method to manage projects such as Scrum, and may have started to see some results. However, the real benefits only happen when mindset and culture become Agile too – that is when you act and behave Agile. Only then will teams achieve maximum effectiveness through a shared purpose, rapid decision and learning cycles, empowerment and intrinsic motivation.

But first things first, what exactly is Agile, and how to know if this is right for you?

The goal of agile is to deliver the best value in the shortest sustainable lead time, while providing the highest quality to customers and society as a whole. The Agile concept embodies respect for people and culture, flow, innovation, and relentless improvement to support the desired result.

The underpinning behaviour of Agile is respect for people and culture, which allows people to feel empowered to evolve their practices and improve, creating better ways of working.

One of the main principles of Agile is in establishing a continuous flow of work that supports incremental value delivery, based on constant feedback and adjustment, which enables faster value delivery, effective built-in quality practices, and continuous improvement, whilst also focusing on removing delays and non-value-added activities.

In Agile, there is a continuous need for improvement, encouraging learning and growth through ongoing reflection and process enhancements.

Critical to Agile organisations is leadership, a key enabler for team success. The ultimate responsibility for the successful adoption of the Agile approach lies with the company’s managers, leaders, and executives, who must embrace the values of Agile development, and become competent in the basic practices, proactively eliminating obstacles, and taking an active role in driving organizational change, whilst facilitating continuous improvement.

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Nowadays Agile methodologies—which involve new values, principles, practices and benefits which pose a radical alternative to command-and-control-style management—are spreading across a broad range of industries and functions and even into the C-suite.

Though Agile was created with software in mind, non-tech teams have begun adopting it as well. Many non-tech teams have found that employing an Agile mindset and using Agile practices can help their team or business get more done, make their customers happier, and make their teams more collaborative.

Some of the most well-known companies in the world use an Agile approach to improve their processes. Companies such as IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and AT&T all use an Agile approach.

So now that you understand what Agile stands for, let’s move onto defining the Agile mindset.

The Agile Mindset

Mindset can be defined as your predominant state of mind from day to day.  It’s what you think about, focus on, and expect from your daily experiences. Much has been written about the two most prevalent competing types of mindsets: Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset:

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Beyond these two types of mindsets, a new mindset is required to be adopted by organizations that want to succeed in the face of uncertainty, whether the apply Agile practices or not – the Agile Mindset.

What is your mindset towards succeeding when there is uncertainty?

Agile is a Mindset             

 An agile mindset is the set of beliefs, attitudes, assumptions and actions supporting an agile working environment. Some of these include respect, collaboration, improvement and learning cycles, pride in ownership, focus on delivering value, and the ability to adapt to change. This mindset is necessary to cultivate high-performing teams, who in turn deliver amazing value for their customers.

Even though organisations and teams can use agile practices without the agile mindset, it is embedding the actual agile mindset in your teams that will transform groups into high-performing teams, focused on delivering value and amazing results for their customers.

Agile thinking is not exclusively for software development and IT organizations, but rather, it can provide competitive advantage to any organization.  It is a change in the way that the whole organization thinks, is led and managed.

Here are what I believe are some of the main characteristics of an Agile mindset:

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Getting the mindset right is what moves teams to a level of high-performance, considered as “optimal productivity,” achieving “breakthrough results” and “a team that can do anything.”

I’ve worked with teams where such a mindset is as natural as the air they breathe. Looking back, I now realize that there was quite a bit of effort put into developing that mindset, and the leaders of these teams had a desired state in mind as they worked with us.

Instilling an agile mindset in any organisation – not just IT related – can provide many advantages to traditional methods. It can help promote a culture of working cohesively and of continuous collective optimization, which translates into better teamwork and lesser wastage of resources.

Overall, an agile mindset can help you reduce costs, keep your teams closely knit, make better decisions faster, increase productivity, keep projects on schedule and a better ROI. Ultimately, it will also provide an environment which is far more appealing for Millennials, who enjoy the more collaborative, fast-paced environment.

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Embracing Agility

Having an Agile mindset means that you are ready and willing to learn throughout your life from your own experiences, both positive and negative, and from the experiences of those around you. An important element of an Agile mindset is an individual’s willingness to deal with failure by learning from it and changing how things are done so as not to repeat the failure. A person with an Agile mindset embraces challenges rather than avoiding them with the understanding that failure does not define. In fact, it provides important information that we need to succeed.

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The agile mindset—the mindset of change, adaptation, and learning—is highly beneficial even outside of software, and it might be more important than the daily practices of the Agile methodology. Carrying a learning approach can allow you to overcome obstacles easier and to take corrective action instead of freezing up. It’s that mindset of adaptation and learning that gives agile such a powerful outcome.

Closing your mind to change and not being ready to alter course can lead to stagnation and, even worse, the inability to evolve.

Agile is not just a set of principles and practices. However, it’s also a mindset that puts learning first and focuses on adaptability. If you can take on that mindset, at both work and in your everyday life, success even in the face of change will be much easier to achieve.

Agile is More than Just a Software Development Methodology

To be Agile in business is to be able to react to the unexpected, to be able to adapt to a changing market environment, and to respond to consumer needs quickly. This applies to software development as much as it applies to other aspects of business.

Applied to the organisation, Agile principles can bring never before seen flexibility to the way a company operates. Agile encourages collaboratively autonomous teams to find unique ways to satisfy customer needs, while an iterative approach – the repetition of a process – helps them do this as fast as possible.

What small steps can you take today, to inch closer to an agile mindset? Where can you share your vision of a great working culture? Where can you offer appreciation of behaviour that fits the agile mindset?

 

Isabel

Isabel is an experienced ICF Coach with over 20 years of international work experience holding senior positions within the hospitality industry in countries around the world, as well as Executive and Leadership coaching, mentoring and training. Isabel specializes in high performance strategy, leadership development and building organizational culture.
More available on www.isabelvalle.com

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