Why is it important to understand the Agile mindset?

Let’s answer this question in two steps, first starting with building an understanding of an Agile mindset.

Step 1: What is an Agile mindset?

There are two explanations that have helped me to understand it. 

Definition 1- An Agile mindset is an approach to managing uncertainty (Ahmad Sidky)

  • Fail fast and learn fast that results in seeking learning opportunities
  • Decreasing uncertainty by exploring and learning
  • Learn and explore in an efficient way
  • Empower individuals and teams to use the collective wisdom

Agile is a mindset that is described by four agile manifesto values and grounded and defined by 12 principles and an unlimited number of practices, tools and processes and the agility becomes limited when these practices are made limited. When all these practices are bundled together  then they define a framework or methodology i.e. Scrum 

Definition 2 –  Powers’ Definition of the Agile Mindset (Simon Power)

This definition defines the mindset of three beliefs…

  • Complexity belief

Many of the challenges we face are complex adaptive problems, meaning that by trying to solve these problems we change the nature of the problem itself. As a corollary to the complexity belief, an attribute of complex adaptive problems is that the end solution is not predictable at the outset.

  • People belief

Individuals are both independent and dependent on their teams and organizations. Human beings are interdependent. Given the right environment (safety, respect, diversity, and inclusion) and a motivating purpose, it is possible for trust and self-organization to arise.

  • Proactive belief

Proactivity in the relentless pursuit of improvement.

Step 2: Why to understand an Agile mindset?

With the above two definitions in mind, an Agile mindset helps discover and learn through valuable output and welcoming change, a kind of circular thinking. 

We start from a point of ambiguity, let’s build something that adds value that will help the customer, learn and discover more and not related to how the end result might look like.

The real essence is to deliver value, receive feedback  and continuously learn what works for customers. 

An Agile mindset helps to easily overcome obstacles and not get stuck when unexpected events happen. If this understanding is not there then fixed-mindset kicks in where there is a fear of failure, uncertainty is tried to reduce by extensive planning and more of fixing and confirming things mindset.

Besides, the Agile mindset is also about caring for individuals and valuing people over processes. It is a way to create a psychologically safe and fail-safe environment where people can grow and innovate. Experimentation and learning behavior is hard to get unless the mindset shift happens.

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