Agile Mindset – Methodology and Principles

Princeton Devaraj | November 01, 2021

Introduction

Imagine reserving a seat for a soccer game - you probably picture a full packed stadium, vibrant crowd, beverages, goals, sound of the final whistle, and your favorite team as winners. You attend this game with an expectation that each player will thrive on the pressure, fly like a sparrow, and harmonize in real-time.

However, as soon as the game starts, the team fails to stick to the game plan, dribbles the ball past the opponents in an uncoordinated manner, and things go out of control. This naturally wouldn’t be a very good performance, and more than likely you would feel frustrated with the result of the game.

Now take this scenario and apply it to your workplace.

Just like the soccer analogy, the workplace relies on plan, harmony, rhythm, and focus. A team needs a strong underlying system to achieve a common goal. In an agile work environment, a strong underlying system of guidelines offers a team the agility to optimize their work for improved and efficient delivery of work.

“Constraints are often seen as limiting and hindering when in reality they complement each other to provide a team with true project flexibility. A right mindset guides you to discover ways to help your team learn to adopt the agile methodology”

The Agile Mindset

“An agile mindset is the set of attitudes supporting an agile working environment. 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.”

If you could, perhaps dive deeper into these qualities or attitudes:

Respect - Most teamwork needs to start with respect for your fellow teammates. At the organizational level, respect for colleagues at all levels of the organization, the customer, and the product itself is also key to maintaining an appropriate work environment.

Collaboration - With increasingly complex systems being built, and subsequently complex problems being solved, accountability must not remain with one person for all the necessary information to complete a task. Instead, collaborative working with other entities will decrease the number of handoffs necessary to deliver.

• Improvement Cycle – There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to defining a process. There is always room for improvement. An organization supporting such behavior would have a light hold on procedural adherence.

• Learning Cycle - Allowing individuals to try something new, and yes, possibly fail, gives an opportunity to learn and improve themselves. Individuals should not be judged for mistakes, but rather supported for taking risks and increasing the team’s knowledge.

• Pride in Ownership - Even if no one person owns a particular piece of code, pride in what is delivered increases the desire to deliver high-quality work.

• Focus on Delivering Value - The main objective of an agile team is to deliver value to the customer. The team should be able to focus on what is of greatest value at the time and deliver with the knowledge that others in the organization (managers and scrum masters) are there to help remove any impediments.

• Ability to Adapt to Change – If the customer proposes changes, the organization rolls with it. Any process to manage this change can’t be an impediment to the change.

When the “why” of agile is clearly understood, the “how” is nurtured naturally in accordance with the needs of the team.

Benefits of Agile approach and its methodologies

It’s no secret that change is hard and can be difficult at times to navigate, especially with complex projects. Implementing even the slightest adjustments to an existing system can often feel tedious and not worth the effort. The agile mindset is the perfect approach to counter challenges that teach how to embrace change, rather than continuously avoid it.

• Strong mindset allows team members to experience autonomy, freedom, creativity, and innovation. The result is a healthy team, which, in turn, continuously improves the strong system in place.

• Avoid start-stop-start delays helps a team to catch defects in the early stages before the product is deployed.

• Reliable and consistent releases influence teams to respond much more efficiently, rather than being forced to redo large batches of work in case of deficiencies.

• Team innovation encourages teams to provide collaborative and constructive feedback, new ideas, and out-of-the-box solutions. It opens the door to experimentation that could transform your culture.

• Optimized and sustainable workflow that will be the difference between an exhausted and overworked group, and a thriving, collaborative, and agile team.

“An optimized workflow refers to the implementation of incremental delivery, reduced batch sizes, and continuous improvement. The agile mindset builds in quality by allowing teams to maximize value and minimize waste. It’s a lot easier to fix an issue as it occurs, rather than at the end of the workflow.”

Key Takeaways

• To succeed with agile methodology, teams must cultivate an agile mindset.

• The agile mindset is a thought process that involves understanding, collaborating, learning, and staying flexible to achieve high-performing results.

• By combining the agile mindset with processes and tools, teams can adapt to change and deliver incremental value to their customers.

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