Agile Mindset to Drive Your Business Results
Agile mindset, also referred to as a “growth mindset”, is a system of beliefs applied to a working environment that appeals to the notion of continuous change with the main focus on delivering value to the customer. In contrast to a “fixed mindset”, when you are set in your ways as an expert and do what you know to give predetermined results, agile is all about embracing the change and facing whatever challenges arise on every stage of the project lifecycle.
Incorporating agile thinking into your core beliefs opens you up to the idea that you will always continue to learn and grow as a professional. It encourages you to discover alternative and better ways to deliver results, eradicates the stigma of making mistakes and introduces you to the option of learning from your failures instead.
Why does it matter to be “agile”?
It’s all about flexibility, creativity and commitment.
To put things into perspective, imagine the following scenario. You start off with a new client, determine requirements for the project, agree on a budget and set a deadline. All is well, until you meet again when the time of the delivery comes and suddenly all sorts of questions start popping out seemingly out of nowhere.
The client wasn’t entirely definite in their wants for the project when you first started out. Now, seeing the delivered product, they realise that they want something different.
Upon delivery, turns out that the client wanted more or different functionality, all of which tugs on the budget limits.
The client is no longer enthusiastic about this project, but wouldn’t mind working on something else.
The list can go on, but the point is that there was a big leap from the start till the end of the project, and the client couldn’t control what was going on in between and come up with better ideas on the go.
As a result, the client isn’t happy, you have to start over, and the team is demotivated, because all of their hard work went to waste. These examples uncover the pitfalls in project management, team alignment, client communication, and so on.
In short, you want to be agile because it makes you:
- Flexible to change
- Resistant to uncertainty and/or failure
- Deliver value to the client early and consistently
- Motivated and responsible to get the job done
- Self-organized and mindful of your input in the project
To sum up, according to PwC research Agile projects are 28% more successful than traditional projects which is a substantial difference.
Key Agile values and principles
Whether you’re just considering a switch to agile ways of working, or you’ve been in the game for a while, you’ll want to incorporate some changes into your day-to-day work life.
A group of software development practitioners took it upon themselves to define the agile values and principles in the Agile Manifesto. These rules, however, are not supposed to be perceived as set in stone. They can be used as guidance for those who are still finding their way to agility.
The four values of Agile Manifesto
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
These values lay out the foundation of an agile working environment and address the way you interact with your team or customers, how you go about accomplishing what needs to be done and set priorities for the project. Perceive them as the stepping stones on your company’s way to business agility. These are the essence of what it means to be agile, setting the precedent for your further Agile Transformation.
Furthermore, the Agile Manifesto outlines the twelve principles as a fundamental guidance to teams in pursuit of business agility.
The 12 Agile principles to follow
- Early and continuous delivery of value to satisfy the customer.
- Responsiveness to changing requirements on all stages of development. 3.
- Frequent delivery of working product. Strive to deliver results in increments in a short timeframe of a few weeks to months.
- Daily collaboration of business and developers.
- Motivation and individual responsibility. Create the environment, support, trust people to get the job done.
- Face-to-face communication.
- Working software is the measure for progress.
- Technical excellence and good design.
- Self-organizing teams.
- Reflecting on the work done and adjusting accordingly.
A team that adheres to these principles, is focused on a common goal to satisfy the customer and builds a relationship with both clients and within the team, based on mutual respect and active cooperation.
Seeking for the optimal way to deliver results, the team is constantly improving and growing with time and experience. The process is organic because you improve in small increments. The team is encouraged to learn from their mistakes. As a team member, you learn to be accountable to yourself and the team.
And, of course, the main focus is to deliver value, therefore when the need arises, the team needs to be flexible to change and focus on the main priority.
Agile vs. Waterfall
Agile is often places as opposite to the traditional Waterfall methodology. The waterfall model is linear and predominantly deadline-based, which means that the project is broken down and executed in a sequence of consecutive steps which are all performed one after the other. The client can see the working product only at the end of the entire cycle, as opposed to agile, where usable output is delivered upon every sprint and making changes as the project progresses is allowed and encouraged.
However, it’s important to recognize when agile is appropriate in any given situation. Agile works great for startups where it’s important to keep a fast pace and remain flexible to changes as the team’s main objective is to create a minimal viable product (MVP). On the contrary, big companies that operate using the waterfall method, may not be as quick to accept agile as the main methodology on scale. However, it may show positive results when introduced in small teams or individually.
Agile may be adopted on an individual, team or organizational level. If you are not sure if this approach is suitable for your company, try starting small with one team and test how they are able to adapt their work to the agile principles. This may be the case for big companies, which traditionally operate in the Waterfall methodology.
Finally, to assure that Agile should be continuously implemented in the team regardless of size or type, look over the statistics according to the Standish Group Chaos Study:
Benefits of adopting an agile mindset for your organization
The many benefits of lean agile make it a desirable model of working that goes beyond software development – starting from agile modeling which precurses effective development, to agile management that is applied to management processes and project management in particular, and even agile learning that puts into use agile concepts of iterative delivery for learning.
Fast delivery. An agile team works quickly, responds to customer needs faster, and is generally proactive and motivated. As a case study, read about how Agile implementation helped Ladbrokes Coral to increase the product delivery to market.
Reduced risk and better decision-making. The team works in sprints, evaluating and responding to feedback at each point. This allows for less risk, quick and democratic decision making.
Transparency and visibility. Improved tracking and visibility of the project.
Continuous improvement. An agile team is ever-changing and growing its experience over time. Learning from mistakes is greatly encouraged.
It’s all about adding value. The main focus of this mindset is to deliver value to the customer.
Collaborative work. In Agile, team works towards a common goal. Communication is very important both within the team and with the customer.
Cost-effective. The methodology allows to reduce the cost of change that is implemented early on in the project and not when the work is almost or completely done. As result, it saves a lot of expenses for the business. Moreover, Agile approach in the organization increases its revenue, as the team is more efficient and the product has higher quality. Additionally, read the case of the assessment and Agile implementation for BleXr and how it helped them to achieve double-digit revenue growth.
How to develop an agile mindset on personal and team levels?
Are you now considering making a change in your work environment and benefit from introducing some agile concepts into your daily work and project management? If so, here are some tips to get you started:
- Analyze where you are standing and find opportunities to introduce the agile approach where possible. Let go of old ideas and concepts that aren’t working or could be replaced with more efficient ways.
- Accept change and adapt quickly. Consider possible consequences and act accordingly.
- Reflect on your experience to gain insight.
- See how you can make agile a part of your company culture.
- Remember that customer comes first! Stay in touch with them and be responsive to their needs.
- Make transparent reporting a priority. Encourage your team to take responsibility, admit to their struggles and shortcomings and see it as a learning opportunity. Let the team see their progress over time.
- Define team milestones and plans.
- Build a highly collaborative relationship within the team. An agile team is eager to share knowledge and help other team members be fully equipped to deal with problems and tasks.
- Welcome diversity of thought and perspective. Create cross-functional teams where each member of the team adds unique value to the project.
- Continually deliver usable output – the product should deliver value from the onset.
- And don’t forget to have fun! Effective communication outside of work boosts motivation and makes a tight-knit team that works well together.
Over the last decade we are observing a great uprise of a new philosophy of the workplace which is designed to make the team maximize the value that they bring to the customer, as the central figure of business. As the marketplace changes, so do the key players. Agile mindset is what can help the team continuously improve and be responsive to the needs of the customer.
If you consider switching your business to Agile, but don’t know where to start, reach out to us. We have years of domain experience with different company types and can provide you with Agile consulting service and a plan to implement Agile smoothly for your business purposes.