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The Agile Mindset: 7 Best Practices to Achieve It

by: John Coburn
The Agile Mindset: 7 Best Practices to Achieve It

In 2001, Agile emerged as a methodology for software development practices in the business world. The aim was to improve management and create more reliable workspaces by using feedback and analysis. These factors were then used to create and develop software to be used as tools. As time went on, Agile expanded beyond software development.

Now, it’s a globally embraced framework & mindset that enables businesses in almost every field to help teams adapt to changes and evolve within their industries.

What is “The Agile Mindset?”

The Agile Mindset, essentially, is a movement away from traditional, bureaucratic leadership (which can involve office politics and a “whoever is loudest is right” mentality). Instead, the agile mindset has teams put aside ego, and focus on what is right, instead of who is right. 

Agile has evolved into more than just software related tasks and has branched out into an actual style of management. 

  • Innovation
  • Emphasis on customer value
  • Self- organized teams
  • Networking and collaboration

While many organizations still follow the bureaucratic hierarchy of management, firms that adapted to Agile practices are able to keep up with shifting markets more efficiently. Agile mindsets focus more on core values such as: 

  • Respect
  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Being adaptive to change, learning cycles and improvement

These characteristics lead to a more open-minded and critical approach to business practices. It incorporates a lot of team building and training. Agile mindset recognizes the human resource and is driven by the innovation of team members and problem-solving skills. The Agile mindset is changing the structure of management in business to a more fluid and adaptive system. 

7 Ultimate exercises to achieve the Agile mindset

brain-training-for-agile

The agile mindset consists of many different values, practices, and principles. It’s a union of technology and the human intelligence that continues to develop and evolve. It’s not an overnight process, and you do need to change certain personal habits and behaviors.

Psychologists often say it takes 30 to 60 days to develop a new habit. Changing your mindset involves changing habits, ‘out with the old, in with the new.’  Seven core functions or exercises to consider in order to achieve an agile mindset are described as follows:

1. Review the Agile Manifesto and its twelve principles

The Agile Manifesto values the following:

“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan.” 

The core principles of Agile in a nutshell are:

  • Customer satisfaction is the top priority.
  • Embrace logical change at every step of the project.
  • Create working deliverables then gradually improve them.
  • Business and tech people need to work together.
  • Build projects around motivated teams to produce quality results.
  • Face to face communication is preferred over other forms of interaction.
  • A working product is the best measure of success.
  • Aim for a sustainable pace of development.
  • Invest sufficient time to produce quality products.
  • There is power in simplicity.
  • Self-organizing teams are ideal.
  • You can learn valuable lessons from both failure and success.

Keeping these principles in mind can help you and your team to become more open-minded to the agile mindset approach. They are the core values that help to nurture more efficiency in teamwork. 

You can best learn the principles of the agile manifesto through coaching from an agile expert. They are expert guides to help you to change your mindset and the mindset of all team members and leaders. 

2. Define and organize clear goals 

goal-definition-helps

 

Being able to define clear goals or achievements is ideal for developing an agile mindset. Your desired end result can allow you to plan and implement tasks to work towards it. It creates a clear vision of your project and allows the team to visualize what is expected of them and how they can contribute. 

It also helps you to figure out what tools you will need and brainstorm various methods. Instead of playing things by ear, sit down and visualize what exactly you would like to achieve at the end of a project. 

You can also practice this for your own personal development. Much like a vision board, a team can simply produce visual diagrams, flowcharts, and schedules. In order to create them, the team can brainstorm and come up with ideas that everyone can agree on. 

3. Focus on the Customer 

customer-focus-wins

 

The customer’s demands, feedback, and ideas are the essential parts of creating a quality end product. Firstly, the main priority of any company should be its customers. The whole point of starting a business is to provide the desired services and products to customers. 

These customers must feel like the products are beneficial to them before they can purchase. Their purchases bring you profits. Therefore, customers are the most important factor to succeeding at your business. Learning how to gather and use customer feedback and demands will help you to create a service that they need. 

Fulfilling these needs will assure customer satisfaction. Client input and recommendations must be utilized to create the right solutions. Having an agile mindset means you learn how to gain insight from customer trends, carry out surveys, and collect data that can then be used by the team to improve customer relations as well and improved products.

4. Practice critical thinking

Critical thinking is a huge part of problem-solving & being agile. The agile mindset is geared towards creating a workforce that can adapt to change as it comes along, so being able to think critically is a massive asset.

 When a problem arises or an unforeseen issue comes about, you need to act and not react. In other words, critical thinking solves problems by doing something to find a solution. Critical thinking involves:

  • Thinking objectively
  • Identifying problems and how they relate to a situation and people involved
  • Evaluating point of views to determine validity
  • Structured reasoning and systematic approach to solving issues

Instead of encountering a problem and feeling stuck or reacting negatively, critical thinking explores all factors and analyses the situation thoroughly. Taking a proactive stance to arising problems (instead of letting them simmer in the background) also saves time and reduces wastage of resources which can cause project bottlenecking or delay your overall workflow. 

Critical thinking, if a team is truly agile, also allows teams to share different angles and perspectives without fear of judgment. When this happens all important points are made visible and taken into consideration. This, in turn, engages the whole team more and increases the chances of crushing project deadlines, delivering value, and satisfying everyone involved. 

5. Learn to communicate and collaborate 

Communication and collaboration are vital to achieving a streamlined team. Every opportunity to foster teamwork should be embraced. Group training that features Agile based games and exercises can also build bonds and be enjoyable. This aids in the development of effective communication. 

Not everyone is used to being a team player. Opening up to the concept of teamwork and comradery can actually make you feel more confident in your area of expertise. You can also find out more about the people you work with. 

Appreciating your team members and acknowledging their various skills and contributions fosters harmony. It doesn’t mean that you need to be BFFs with your coworkers, but developing a great working relationship with your work peers will greatly benefit overall productivity. 

Combining technology and software can also assist. Programs that allow team members to share work, chat, conference, and track task completion and schedules can bring the team together in more ways than one. 

Participating in team activities, becoming accustomed to working with others and being able to have fun at work also benefits mental wellness. The office doesn’t have to be stressful and daunting. Being able to connect with your work peers is important to help you and your team to perform at your highest potential. 

Another aim of the Agile mindset is to eliminate the “I” and focus on the “we”. This cannot be achieved without unity amongst the team. Each member must try to co-operate and work together for the greater good of the team, the company and the customer. 

6. Be transparent

transparent-leadership
ok, maybe not THAT transparent.

Sharing responsibility and being accountable are key factors in transparency. At the end of the day, it is a team effort. Withholding data or important information will do more harm than good. Transparency in giving performance feedback and tracking growth and development boosts team morale. 

When roles and responsibilities are clearly outlined, there is less confusion and setbacks. Budget figures and patterns in data analysis should also be accessible to all. Therefore, if there is a glitch in the process, and everyone is aware of the issue, it leads to a faster resolution. The transparency that also extends from the upper management is a plus. 

Transparency on all levels and across all departments also builds trust and makes for easier collaboration and discussions.  Always be willing to share knowledge as it serves to benefit the team as a whole. When trust is established, it is easier for employees to have faith in their superiors. This makes the role of the management team easier as team members will be more co-operative. 

7. Stay humble and reflect

Human error can sometimes produce negative outcomes. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, you should be able to take it as a learning experience and move on. People make mistakes for various reasons. Misinformation or misunderstanding of a task can delay your team’s project.

Your team members should be able to learn from failure and use it to improve your tactics. By doing this you gain knowledge about what not to do and how else you may perform a certain task. Reflection means that you can be open-minded and think of more possible solutions. This builds wisdom and expertise. 

Benefits of Agile Mindset

So now you have an idea of what it takes to develop an agile mindset. So how does this benefit you and your team members?

  • It promotes responsible leadership and management
  • Empowers individuals 
  • It encourages self-organizing and determining
  • Improves knowledge sharing
  • Places more emphasis on face to face interactions
  • Makes it easier to fulfill transparency
  • Faster problem solving
  • Faster work output
  • Collaboration and innovation
  • Appreciation for human resource and customer value
  • Incorporates tech tools with human intelligence for optimum performance

The agile mindset places value on constant improvement. This is applied to software, techniques, and the people involved. Things and people always have room to improve and reach their highest potential, therefore growth and progress is an ongoing process.

It also doesn’t just benefit employees. It boosts the performance of the firm as a whole. These can reflect well on the company in the following ways:

  • More awareness of social and economic concerns pertaining to customers
  • Customer appreciation attracts more clients and loyal patrons
  • Allows the company to stand out from the crowd 
  • Boost innovation and development of company practices and services
  • Technological advancements that produce better results and organization

Key Takeaways

a-different-kind-of-key-takeaway
A bit of a literal interpretation – haha

Achieving an agile mindset is a process. 

It takes a lot of individual effort and it takes time. 

The Agile mindset calls for more participation and presence. 

It helps teams to be more efficient as each member makes valuable contributions and work together. It encourages quick thinking, organization, structure, and workforce efficiency. 

This is great for professional development and builds a high-value workforce. 

Agile mindset is very similar to a growth mindset (if not the same as) they share the same goals. 

  • Challenges are embraced and resolved quickly. 
  • Obstacles are dealt with in a head-on approach as a team. 
  • Every effort made is viewed as a step mastered to achieve the end goal. 
  • Feedback and constructive criticism are welcomed as learning experiences. 
  • The success of others is celebrated as a victory for the team and motivates team members. This, in turn, sparks inspiration and encourages other individuals to improve.

These are all valuable traits that can significantly improve the success rates of projects and the reputation of an organization. With more companies taking on this approach to management and operations, businesses are adapting to be less profit-driven and more customer service and solution-driven.

The agile mindset also creates a highly competent and trained workforce. Instead of following orders blindly, employees can help in decision making and produce ideas and feedback for the development of the firm.

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