Do you take the time to address your mindset? The mindset of the individuals on your team? and the mindset of the team as a whole?
If not, this might be something you want to consider – and today, this is what we will address in this blog – the Agile Mindset!
We speak a lot about mindset in the Agile community, yet Agile is still commonly identified by its methods and frameworks, such as Scrum, instead of as a mindset – why?
Perhaps it is because defining an Agile Mindset is more elusive. I want to offer three points to you today:
- In its truest sense, Agile is a mindset.
- Mindset is foundational to delivering better outcomes because it affects everything we think, feel, and do – and therefore, our mindset directly affects our results.
- Because our mindset directly affects our results, it is therefore, worth addressing in the workplace.
To understand this better, let’s first look at the Agile Manifesto as an example to help us understand the concept of mindset in an Agile context.
Most of us will be familiar with the Agile Manifesto, which consists of 4 Values and 12 Principles that act as a foundational guide for Agile. However, for anyone who is not familiar with this, you can check out the link to the Resources page on ScrumAlliance.org to read the full Agile Manifesto.
For today’s purposes, we will review the 4 values. But, as you read them, I want you to consider this question: what mindset do you think the authors were in when they wrote them?
- Individuals and interactions > processes and tools.
- Working software [Value] > comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration > contract negotiation.
- Responding to change > following a plan.
Notice how the 4 Values focus on “being agile” as a foundation for success in “doing agile.”
So how do we work to improve the “being” part? First, we focus on our mindset.
Mindset is defined by Oxford Dictionary as “the established set of attitudes held by someone.”
So, what established attitudes do you think led to the development of the Agile Manifesto? The point here is to get you thinking about mindset, what it means, and the impact it can have. As you do this, you can witness a strong connection between our thoughts (aka mindset) and our results.
For example, let’s look at the circumstance of two people receiving $1,000. One person may think it’s a large sum of money, and the other may think it’s a small sum. Two people:
- In the same circumstance.
- With different thoughts.
- Will have different feelings.
- That will lead to different actions/inactions.
- That leads to different results.
Most traditional workplace coaching, mentoring, and development plans focus on the last two items: the action and the result.
What is commonly missing, however, is an emphasis on the drivers behind the actions/inaction. To address this means going two levels deeper, to our thoughts (aka our mindset) and feelings.
We all have limiting beliefs hidden in our mindset that hold us back, some are conscious, and some are unconscious, and they affect us in a myriad of ways, for example:
- Not speaking up in a meeting when you want to.
- Not asking for an opportunity to work on that cool project you would love to be a part of.
- Not pitching a new idea that you have.
If any of these things have happened to you or in your Agile team, then you likely have been affected by limiting beliefs and your mindset holding you back. Can you start to see the direct link between thoughts/mindset and results?
One exercise you can try with yourself or with a team is the Obstacles to Strategies Exercise:
Step 1: Know that this may sound counter-intuitive initially, but hang in.
Step 2: Think of a goal – personal or professional, large or small.
Step 3: Ask yourself these questions – why can’t I do this, achieve this, be this? Alternative ways to ask this question include: What’s holding me back? What’s in my way? If only…?
Step 4: Let your mind go and list all the reasons: Your fears. What ifs. I don’t know how-tos…
Step 5: Congratulations! You have listed everything you need to do, learn, or become to achieve your goal.
Step 6: Go through the list and categorize each item into a skill gap or a mindset gap and address it accordingly.
If you dare to be truly honest about all your fears when you brainstorm your list, you will be shocked to see how much of what is holding you back is your mindset gap, not just a skill gap.
To continuously improve our outcomes, we must recognize and address the impact that mindset has on individuals and teams and take the time to address it.
Over time, the workplace has moved from valuing hard skills to soft skills and emphasizing emotional intelligence. I believe that the next evolution in the workplace is to address the mindset of individuals and teams as a catalyst for innovation.
Think back to the question: what mindset did the creators of the Agile Manifesto have? I believe that Agile has been so impactful because it has started us on the journey of addressing our mindset.
So, I would like to ask you again:
Do you take the time to address your mindset? The mindset of the individuals on your team? and the mindset of the team as a whole? If not, this might be something you want to think about doing. If not, this might be something you want to consider.
I go into more depth on these topics and exercises in the accompanying webinar, Limiting Beliefs & Agile Mindset, hosted by Agilists Co. I highly recommend you check it out in addition to all of the webinars available in the Agilists Co. Unlearning Webinar Series. It’s a great resource to expand your mind!