Agile Mindset: The Big Picture

Challenges grow together with the business. The need to constantly keep up with the market while at the same time making sure that the company’s people remains competent and productive are just some of the difficulties they need to face head on. Most of the time, strategy is not enough. Having the proper mindset as a leader and as a team is very vital to business success.

What is a mindset? Mindsets are the assumptions and expectations we have for ourselves and others. These are the set of attitudes that guides our behavior and greatly influences our responses to daily events. According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, your beliefs play a pivotal role in what you want and whether you achieve it. She believes that success, either personal or business, is not determined by innate intellect or talents. Rather, success of business and individuals depend on their mindset and the degree they believe in whatever they can do to grow and strengthen their abilities. Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their qualities are inborn, unchangeable and fixed. On the other hand, those ones with a growth mindset believe that different abilities can be learned and developed depending on how committed they are at working on it.

What is this Agile Mindset? Being agile is about learning and adapting. That agile mindset is the mindset of adaptation, change, and most importantly, continuous learning. It is significantly beneficial in software development businesses, but the approach is also very popular to big brands worldwide. It is also having the mindset that every learning approach will allow individuals and businesses easily overcome challenges. I think the essence of agile development is learning. That’s what agile has brought to the table,” that’s the closest we will ever get to being scientific is to deliver small increments, to get feedback on that, to constantly learn about what works and what doesn’t work in our environment.” – Linda Rising, popular keynote speaker, an author and a consultant with Stickyminds.

Agile is, without a doubt, a set of different principles and combined practices. At the same time, it’s also a working mindset that puts continuous learning first and focuses on adaptability next. If one can take on this mindset, both at work and in everyday life, success even in the face of change will be much easier to achieve.

People Factors in Agile Software Development and Team Project Management

According to the Agile Manifesto (2011), Agile was derived from a set of principles that focus on self-organization, small integrated teams, small and continuous improvements, iterative and incremental delivery, intense collaboration and customer value. To put it simply, being agile is not just about having weekly sprints nor scrums when needed. Being agile instead is a preset mindset. It is a mindset to deliver highest quality work possible and being flexible at the same time. Organizations have transformed their software development processes from conventional mindset to agile. Although not all of them success, results have delivered invaluable knowhow on the effects of this mindset for the organization as a whole.

Agile project management is a conceptual framework in software development and software engineering where the application software is built within a relatively short period of time and has several iterations that yields stable release of the software.

In a study published in 2011 (Conboy et al., 2011), it was found that the increasing use of Agile Mindset approaches and growing pressure to adopt Agile Management, contribute to the strong need for human resource departments and project managers to address different challenges people in the organization are currently facing.  There is a need to identify the existing and new problems that the agile transition may cause.

A list of the most important people challenges in agile was proposed as follows: developer fear caused by transparency of skill deficiencies, the need for developers to be a ‘master of all trades’, increased reliance on social skills, a lack of business knowledge among developers, the need to understand and learn values and principles of Agile, not just the practices, lack of developer motivation to use Agile methods and the need for Agile compliant performance evaluation. 

Conboy et al., 2011

An agile mindset includes flexibility in every task. The way on how the team responds to certain situations, and deliver the highest possible value to the client in small iterations at the soonest time possible to fetch and improve based on continuous feedback, is a part of an agile mindset.

An agile mindset focuses not just on the completion of the task. It places more emphasis on what value the certain task is going to bring to the end users, clients and the ones who worked hard to create it. And so, this is the reason why the agile mindset is based on giving and receiving continuous constructive feedback. The smaller these feedback cycles (either by regular sprint reviews or iterations), the better the team will be able to track the progress and respond properly to the situation.

It is very important to start and develop a proper agile mindset within the team and organization as a whole to undergo a true mindset to agile transformation. Communication plays a significant role in an agile team. All agile mindset methodologies whether they be sprints, extreme programming or scrums are based on proper communication processes and flexibility, all of these can help your team to become agile.

Companies are continuously looking forward to new ways and technologies to improve their team’s efficiency productivity. Although it is possible for teams to be agile without adopting the mindset, it is only with having the right agile mindset will the team be able to deliver amazing, top-notch results to clients and customers.

Top 3 Reasons Why is an Agile Culture Important?

Startup or not, business founders and leaders strive for perfection. Huge investment and hours of hard work is on the line, so no one can be blame for them having these expectations. In an agile environment, that concept of perfection doesn’t exist. It is more about on learning from feedback and making the most out of it.

Why is an Agile Culture Important? Being agile is a much more successful approach for a few reasons.

First-Mover Advantage

First-mover advantage is one such concept. This is probably the biggest advantage of taking an agile mindset approach – having the first-mover advantage over their competitors, giving them the edge on technological leadership and market popularity. While their competitors are busy planning and perfecting their strategy, businesses using agile approach are already out there making big sales and taking the lead.

These businesses will have a very high potential of making a lasting impression on the market leading to brand recognition and loyalty. It will also give them the advantage of controlling resources such as strategic business location or perhaps an exclusive contract with key suppliers and highly talented employees.

Team Motivator

Agile Approach means having small feedback cycles that can be motivating and exciting for both current and new members of the team. The Progress Principle is valuable for team motivation. For example, working on the same big project for months without seeing tangible results to show off can be quite demotivating.

Teresa Amabile, the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration and a Director of Research at Harvard Business School through Forbes said, “We found that work is truly important to most people. They want to succeed and they want to make a contribution to something. Throughout the day, people react to events that happen and try to make sense out of them. These emotional reactions and perceptions affect their motivation for the work. People are more creative, productive, committed to the work, and collegial toward their coworkers in a positive working environment. What we found was that, of all the events that occur on best days, one stood out well above the rest – simply making progress on meaningful work. We call this the “progress principle.””

Customer Centricity

Technology has come far enough that it doesn’t only cater to bots and machines. Even the tech giant Google is all about customer experience. For the agile mindset approach, customers get a constant sense of security whenever a company keeps releasing new features. The agile mindset approach also allows businesses to adjust to customer’s needs and demands, keeping them happy and loyal with the business longer.

Truth to be told, it turns out that not many companies treat customer-centricity seriously. This is where the advantages of using agile approach shine the brightest. Having customers at the center of each and every change made during the process, the business naturally attracts the loyal customers returning loyal and constant sales.

For businesses and teams new to agile mindset approach, difficulty in self-management is expected. This is where keeping an optimistic attitude is so important. It seems that failure tends to be more public than success. Or at least that’s what we perceive it to be – Forbes. Some or worst, most of the things may not always work, but they should not give up. It is easy to become demotivated and downhearted, but instead, team members, especially management leaders, should keep in mind that these failures make them learn and experience something.

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

Robert F. Kennedy

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