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To be more agile, you need mindsets to change

Colin Ellis | Nov. 15, 2016
“We need to be more agile. We need to get things done quicker. Little ‘a’ not big ‘A’ – no it’s the other way around.”

“We need to be more agile. We need to get things done quicker. Little ‘a’ not big ‘A’ – no it’s the other way around.”

“Being nimble is where it is at. Do we go scrum, Kanban or DSDM? What about lean? We’ll dramatically improve our delivery rates if we go agile.”

I hear these things over again and yet, in most cases nothing ever changes. Simply saying you need to be more agile won’t change a thing.

Sending everyone on an agile training course won’t change a thing. Asking your customers to get more involved won’t change a thing. Buying a collaboration tool won’t change a thing. Going open plan won’t change a thing.

Calling project managers scrum masters won’t change a thing. Buying a pool table won’t change a thing.

None of these things work unless the mindset of people changes and they create a culture that supports difference of opinion and a willingness to try different things.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

The key to being successfully agile is not slavishly following a process or using it to shortcut existing systems, but in having a team of people who understand the value of the steps required, an understanding of each other’s personalities and an agreement on how they’ll work together respectfully.

Read more:Clive Rossiter's stupid rule revolution

They accept that ‘the way we do things around here’ is continually evolving and needs to be challenged and changed. As Ed Catmull said in his excellent book Creativity Inc: ‘Anyone should be able to talk to anyone else at any level at any time.’

Working products over comprehensive documentation

The team understands that perfection can’t be achieved and that while it’s important to capture the information about what needs to be built, it doesn’t have to be a 100-page document with 25 signatories.

Read more:​The mainframe is back, and it’s getting agile: Chris O’Malley

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

They know that the customer is part of the team culture. That they are at the heart of what’s being developed and that they can see regular progress. They don’t spend weeks ‘dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s’. They put their trust in each other to build a culture that does things in the right way.

Responding to change over following a plan

They know that change is important to meet the customer expectations. That planning is critical but endlessly planning is not. That Microsoft Project might not always be the best way to display a schedule. And that managing risk will reduce uncertainty, but applying a corporate matrix to each one is not always necessary.


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