Mindset Please – No Ruleset

I don’t divide the teams into performing and non-performing or success and failed teams. I divide them into “Doing Agile” teams and “Being Agile” teams.

Mindset is a starting point and Agility is a malleable mindset. Agile mindset affects decisions related to improvement. Doing agile and being agile are different mindsets towards acquiring agility. The former portraits and outputs performance as a fixed trait while the later brings in the mindset to learn and improve as a growth organ. I safeguard my viewpoint that learnings, transformation, focus and trust take precedence over looking smart, give through put, produce business value and this what is exactly the meaning of agile.

Teams with a goal of doing agile think that the maturity should come naturally. The strong conception of working hard, is termed not being smart and is a parasite in these teams while the protein is an idea to review the results where hard work is the key.  Being agile creates a milieu for collective mindset allowing the team to pursue emergent opportunities. In short, philosophical stance codified in the mind, hence as mindset, lead to a climate that in turn causes values that lead to practice.
Often, the teams doing agile tend to create performance goals and strongly advocate that an individual’s potential can be measured. Achieving low predictability or low velocity makes them feel they are not smart. Here is a common mindset to look smart at all times; sometimes by hiding mistakes and concealing deficiencies by the team, to the outside world. They are very anxious about successes ad
failures. 

The teams striving to ‘be agile’ confronts deficiencies, capitalizes on the mistakes, increases the knowledge from the lessons learnt when there is a failure. Hence the teams being agile tend to create learning opportunities, targeting mastery and competence. The best part of these teams is they it does not measure a person’s potential with the results. Scores and numbers show how team is doing NOW not how is the team or what is the team’s performance.

Being agile, again, injects emergent properties in the team. These teams produce within themselves qualitatively new class of product ideas, technologies and implementation strategies which neither of the individuals solely can produce, when there are cognitive divergences of multiple collaborating individuals. Doing agile just sees through the quantitative outcomes like productivity, throughput, cycle time, velocity etc.

Teams doing agile are more deterministic in common. The dependency on the metrics to forecast the outcomes from the team is what makes these teams grow with a fixed mindset rather towards growth mindset. Explicit follow-up on velocity, cycle time, and team’s productivity with numbers, is like holding a whip to make the best, obedient horse to run in knee deep water, as fast as it will on the track. Team’s willing to be agile will forgo this deterministic ideology and reap non-linearity. They believe in believing that the true empowerment of the team leads to outstanding quality. No small thought is considered a ‘thought’. It is brought onto the table and deliberated for a discussion. A single method change in the code base thought, may lead to a dramatic breakdown of a large solution or a slight simplification of UX may open access to a vast array of system’s capabilities to the end user.

Doing agile is about the PRACTICES: stand ups, user stories, iterations etc. There are significant benefits from using agile practices – can be seen like a ‘common sense’ of getting the work done. Hence, I term ‘doing agile’ mindset as a RULE SET. Adopting these practices have lead benefits. Perhaps 20% or even more from what I have seen. This is widely reported by industry research too.
Being Agile is all about our CONSCIOUSNESS or way of being. I refer to it also as MINDSET or ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE. It is about how we use ourselves, how we relate to each other, what we value. I would put the ROI on this at 3x to emphasize and illustrate how much impact this has on the team and organizational effectiveness. It could be much more. We are talking about transformation and reinvention here – not applying a process change.

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