The Agile Mindset: Part One

Do you have an Agile Mindset?

Coming from a Project Management background I’ve always applied not only my relational experience but also my methodology of project management to my coaching.

Early in my career I was taught to shift my thinking from a linear to an agile mindset in response to the sort of projects and people I was managing. In general, the larger and more complex the project the more agile it needed to be; how much larger and more complex can you get than an entire company!

You may already have a sense of what ‘agile working’ looks like, whether you’ve seen it in action or not. Agile conjures images of mid-field rugby players or trained collies weaving and dodging at full sprint, we know it means fast, responsive; able to quickly change direction. So how do those principles apply to the productivity of your business?

In the following series I’ll be focusing on four key principles of agile working that I believe need to be applied to business productivity:

  1. Embrace change often
  2. Never let the ‘business’ and the ‘work’ become siloed
  3. Communicate regularly and impeccably
  4. Stop and ask: Is what I am doing a) Excellent b) Necessary?

Part 1: Embrace change often

The biggest impact that the agile mindset will have on your business is the way you approach change.

“Welcoming change requests is the preserve of emotionally intelligent people: Those who are self-aware and in control of their thoughts, feelings and actions: those who can say, “Yes, sure”, when their impulse us to be frustrated, upset or defensive”. Jonna Sercombe.

 The Agile Secret

I’m naturally a control freak. It began very early on in my life, long before the idea of a career in Project Management came to mind, probably even before potty training! Being an only child to a single mother most things in life were very constant and predictable – my mum made sure of it. So the idea of change, in all its guises, is something I’ve really had to train myself to embrace. But coming from this background has helped me to see in others the issues I have faced in the past. The fear of too many plates spinning, too many things out of my personal control, is common to many.

But change in a business is not only inevitable, it needs to be embraced and quickly. Quick and regular sprints of development followed by scrutinised change implementation are pivotal to agile working. The more you look for problems and change them, the quicker you will improve. It sounds obvious but in practice it can be very hard to implement.

 Where to look for problems that need to change?

Problems, or fixes in your business can come from all places. It may not be immediately obvious what the source of a problem is so always be open minded about who/what is causing the ‘bug’ that needs fixing.

Who finds problems?

This has to be a whole team affair, a whole project affair. Every person who touches the business, whether contractor, supplier, client or employee needs to feel empowered to spot problems and bring them to you. If you are not approachable; not emotionally mature enough to welcome this, then you will be shutting down potential avenues for change.

How to react to problems?

As I’ve touched on above, the way you react to change really affects where the next change request comes from and therefore how quickly and regularly your business will change. Your reaction to problems in your business needs to be positive, however hard this seems. Your business is your baby, so being told your baby is ugly is very hard to take! This is only natural! But it’s the first step to true meaningful change.

 How to change?

Give yourself and your team enough space and time so that when issues arise they can be dealt with as soon as possible. If the reaction is: “We don’t have time to deal with this issue” then you are ultimately avoiding problems that will never go away.

For more take a look at the other episodes in this series or head to my quick tips vlog on what Agile means.


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