Many businesses are familiar with the benefits of the agile mindset but for those who are yet to fully embrace it, why should they look at being more agile?
A lot of businesses are scared of change, thinking it needs to be a revolution rather than an evolution and don’t understand the amount of time and money wasted caused by a lack of agility. They don’t understand what an agile outcome will deliver them, often through no fault of their own as they haven’t had the coaching or support to help them through the mindset shift. They also, mistakenly, believe that agile is only for software development teams and so often the rest of the business is at odds with the way the tech function is performing, and this creates organisational friction.
What is the biggest obstacle facing businesses who seek an agile way of working?
The biggest challenge is of agile leadership – it has to start at the top. Certainly the C-suites and then leaders of particular remits need to be making those shifts. You could certainly look to bring in the expertise of an Enterprise Agile Coach but the leaders in the business would need to be thinking about identifying what the new philosophies, values and norms will be in this future state.
I have worked within businesses where there are those bureaucratic leaders who don’t want change and don’t want to evolve change, and that presents a lot of challenges. There are of course a lot of people who are very receptive or open to change and want to do anything that they can to make their business a success.
The other thing that stands in the way, is that many organisations don’t fully comprehend what agile actually means for them. A lot of businesses aspire to be agile and end up ‘doing’ agile and not ‘being’ agile, a lot of them label themselves as agile but simply do not embody the mindset.
What is an agile mindset?
There are a set of attitudes that support a truly agile environment. Things like respect, collaboration, improvement, learning cycles, pride and ownership, delivering value, ability to adapt to change. This mindset is necessary for everyone in the business, especially the leadership teams. The teams will deliver the outcomes, agile is about embracing the mindset it’s not about an agile structure – it’s not about following a system or a process.
How does a business introduce an agile mindset?
Firstly a business can only do this, once it is in a position of understanding the need for change and appreciating that they are in a continual evolution to operate smarter. From there it’s about trying to remove silos and to try and figure out how we can remove that friction.
Another important factor is to integrate systemic coaching across the whole business. You would need to go through all layers of the business and talk about the mindset shift and the philosophy that we want to operate under, remembering to share the why. Making sure to share learnings from other organisations to back up your direction. Having a sense of direction and identifying the future state will enable organisations make the decisions about how the ways of working is going to look like.
Lastly, you need to look for internal champions and continuously get feedback as you will be working in short iterations. You then change the model until you have something right for that business capability.
How do you interview for that mindset?
I’m not so sure you do. But a good indicator is the ability to digress honestly about past mistakes and failures just as much as successes. Without this honesty it is easy to spot who is pulling the wool over your eyes.