Monday, November 9, 2015

Agile is the State of Mind

Agile is a state of mind, not a process.

Almost every organization is using agile today, but the misunderstood idea is that people can 'DO' Agile only. There's not so much to 'do,’ "mechanical agile" will stop at some point because Agile is a state of mind. Ultimately, you need to 'be' Agile.

Agile is a state of mind, not a process. It’s the basic underlying principles of Agile! You can not expect big bang mindset change so you need to start with some initial philosophy and some initial practices that pay off and reinforce, a mindset change is more difficult of a change and involves coaching/training/teaching and important discussions around what Agile is to the team/department/company. Any process is inherently non-agile, to some extent, and most supposedly 'agile' processes are nothing of the kind. Processes are put in place by managers requiring control of projects, and from the classic management perspective, which is the first step in helping the team become agile? The first is to build very good team players with the agile mindset, help the team build soft skills and help them remove "e" from "ego" and help them in making "respect for each other" as their second nature.

To keep an Agile mindset, you should put a high effort into making them productive within the context of a team environment. The 'Why' you are doing the practice might occupy a small portion of thinking, and the practice with a large portion of your daily effort, but it’s not necessarily an unhealthy scenario. The danger is when you start practicing because 'The book said to do it this way' or 'Because we have always been doing it that way.' Practices should always be under scrutiny to see if the ones which were successful under yesterday's context are still going to be successful in today's context. Agile is not the goal but can it be a goal in order to reach the real business outcome. Without agile mindset, if team members are not able to resolve their conflicts, are they going to collaborate over problems? They might achieve individual goals, but team goal will not be achieved. If team goal is not achieved then product increment will not be done. Winning teams, not winning individuals, create winning products. Such high mature teams will be in a very good state to decide which is the appropriate tool and process to achieve results, respond to change quickly, develop high-quality software repeatedly and frequently.

Agile is about people and not tools and processes.  Tools and processes are definitely going to be add on, in being agile, but they are not mandated to become agile. In practice: on one hand, organizations focusing on artifacts, metrics, ceremonies without ever understanding the why from the inside, will not get far. On the other hand, evangelists of agile who lose touch with business, do agile for its own sake. Agile is an open mindset, where you are open to fail and learn from mistakes. Agile is about people and not tools and processes, being agile means respectful to each other, open to other's views, being a good listener, being collaborative. 

Mindset change takes time, and small successes help people move towards that mindset. It is not a bad idea to start with practices, but it’s important to change the mindset, focusing on values and principles. from doing Agile to being agile.


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