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Agile – Mindset or Methodology?

Agile – Mindset or Methodology?  The answer is simple, both, but one is important, and the other is critical.

In the world of work and Project Management, timescales have been challenged at a pace that we would never have considered, in recent past. We live in a world of constant change, where requirements evolve and the opportunity to add value is a daily, weekly, or even hourly item on the minds or Project and Agile teams.

The Agile Methodology requires that we break work down into bite size chunks, that we focus on what needs to be done, and maintain alignment with peers, stakeholders, clients, and colleagues. In doing so, we correctly anticipate more feedback and interaction, especially at the outset when feasibility is still in the process of being established. In terms of Project Management, this is a full-scale enhancement of a foundational practice with enterprise value. Ultimately, the Agile Methodology requires us to be adaptable and flexible, to be the best humans we can be in terms of behaviors and leadership (by influence). To achieve this, our mindset needs to be positive, responsive to change, and open to collaborate. This is a personal challenge, and in all probability, it is one which will be uncomfortable for some.

We have been conditioned to rely on plans, spreadsheets, Gantt Charts, and to represent our points of view at meetings where we have become accustomed to believing that we “can get there,” if we execute the plan in totality without compromise. This has not always worked, in fact, the misconception is the driving force of change that has helped “Agile Project Management,” to take hold as a complimentary approach to the Agile mindset.

Adopting an Agile Mindset in conjunction with the tools of Agile Project Management, promotes a more dynamic model for us to engage with, where the focus is on today, tomorrow, and the next month, not next year.  The work we are doing today will add value if it is aligned by purpose and expectations. That said, we cannot disregard the “plan” and our foundation as it will serve as the guiding light to meet the goals and expectations established via stakeholder requirements.  The key is understanding what, when, and why “agility” should be applied.  The behaviors, compliment the method and will ultimately enhance our performance. Herein lies the exciting opportunities presented in this future centered approach.

If we can adapt to the mindset first, everything else falls into place.  We govern ourselves on much shorter time horizons (sprints) and challenge ourselves to get more done, we may operate in a business which requires quarterly reviews but our ability to break it down and to go beyond our comfort zone drives added value for the business, its customers, its staff, and its shareholders. This approach takes all aspects of regulatory, compliance, and governing bodies into consideration whilst executing within the most optimal method which is still founded in Project Management best practice.

Adopting the methodology will take you some of the way, but without the mindset, you will always be looking to the past and your purpose will not be future centered. Our enterprise clients have continued to benefit from this innovation and both Project Management and Agile practitioners are continuing to refine the migration of “mindset” and “methodology,” and are gaining improvements regularly.

An Agile mindset is critical to success.

Written by Dave Wallis