Embracing an Agile Mindset

There seems to be a renewed vigor towards approaching the problems of organizations with the right mindset in place. While there are always practices and frameworks that will guide people in their quest to become better at addressing these problems, nothing will ever beat people with the right mindset and work ethic to make good things happen. So, let’s see what it takes to embrace the right mindset in our Agile approach to be as successful as possible.

Principle Based Approach

Even from the very beginning of the Agile movement, there has always been a philosophy of how things get done. With the Agile Manifesto and its subsequent variants (Agile Marketing Manifesto for instance), the focus on values and principles is evident in everything that is done. When someone says what they value over something else, they are making a value-based decision. I love that those things discovered have been shared so abundantly to the point that I regularly mention even outside of software products that it is working solutions that I value over comprehensive documentation. In an effort to be more Agile in our approach, we have to remember what the primary measure of our success is and that we regularly take time to inspect our behaviors and make changes to improve on what we are doing. Those principles are just two of the many that can be leveraged to become more Agile. To this end, a story shared in a recent podcast titled “How Can We Be Agile” by Lee Henson emphasized this with two men involved in a contest to chop down the most trees in a specified period that were being used for lumber.

lumber yard

One man was significantly younger than the other and felt he had the clear advantage, especially when he kept seeing his competitor take a break every 30 minutes or so throughout the day. When the totals were tallied at the end of the day, the younger man was astonished at how much more his counterpart had finished than him. The secret was of course in the sharpening of his axe every 30 minutes or so to keep it performing at its best. Too often we forget to measure ourselves in short delivery cycles where we are completing a committed segment of work and then taking that time in between to refresh our approach (sharpen our axe) and get better at what we are doing. Whether we call it a retrospective or not doesn’t matter, but what does matter is that we truly inspect what we are doing and make adaptations to our efforts to get back on track or moving the direction towards the desired outcome for our customer. Take any of the 12 principles of Agile and in applying them that’s how improvements happen.