Agile mindset

Does your team have an Agile mindset?

First of all, it is important to understand what the Agile movement stands for, and a key piece to understanding it is called the Agile Manifesto

“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”

Agile Manifesto

Each statement in the Agile Manifesto represents a different approach to how teams can organize their work. It brings light on four dimensions: people, innovation, customer, and adaptability that might have been forgotten or de-prioritized in teams that are too focused only on the efficiency part of the equation: process, control, costs, and predictability. 

Let’s analyze each statement individually to understand what does it mean to have an Agile mindset and to evaluate if your team has it or not.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: Agile Teams use processes and tools to empower their team members and their interactions. Processes and tools are viewed as enablers to do great work and not as a way of controlling how the team works. Likewise, processes and tools should be able to change if they are not supporting the team or are longer needed. Teams that have very rigid rules on complying with processes and tools, and that values them more than the interactions between themselves, tend to lose great opportunities to inspect, adapt and test new ideas that could drastically improve the results of their work. 

Working software over comprehensive documentation: Agile Teams prioritize value-driven activities such as shipping new features to customers. Activities that have no value to customers should be eliminated or reduced to a minimum effort. If your team spends more time explaining and controlling the work instead of doing the work, it is very probable that you are wasting valuable time that could be allocated to delivering faster solutions to your customers.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: Agile Teams leverage their relationship with customers by understanding their needs and developing better products and services to them. It is about building trust and collaboration instead of competing for which party gets a better deal. It is about creating value instead of just managing costs. Contracts are important but they are usually used for solving disputes, and if your team is engaged in building relationships with customers by fostering communication and improving the product based on the feedback received, it is very unlikely that the parties will need to go over the contract clauses. It is about focusing on delivering value to customers first.

Responding to change over following a plan: Agile Teams are nimble and able to adapt to changes. Planning is essential, it helps the team to focus on what to do next and what to do first. Nonetheless, Agile Teams are aware that there are several variables that might impact the success of the plan. That’s why it is important to establish communication channels within team members, customers, and other stakeholders, so the Agile Team can receive feedback faster and adjust its ways of working or re-prioritization what needs to be done. If your team is not receiving feedback from your customers on a constant basis, or if it is not able to adjust fast the plan, your team might be developing a solution that is no longer relevant to your customers.

In a fast-changing world where there is more volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, adopting an Agile Mindset is an important capability of a high-performance team that is able to succeed in multiple scenarios.

Agile mindset

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