today, I would like to take you on my own and very personal agile journey, which ultimately led me to the company culture of amiconsult. At that time, I wanted to become more “agile” myself and asked myself how I could develop my agile mindset in this direction.
In doing so, I asked myself the following questions:
- What is the best way to get started?
- Why become agile at all?
- How does an agile mindset work?
- How does an agile mindset show up in practice?
How to get started? Developing the agile mindset
I know that developing an agile mindset is not easy for everyone. After all, an agile mindset describes a certain way of thinking, perceiving and acting that is supposed to make it easier to deal with change and complexity. But how am I supposed to learn this way of thinking, perceiving and acting if no one has ever demonstrated it to me? – and is therefore largely unknown to me?
So I looked for an environment with colleagues who already knew more about it than I did and were willing to share their experience with me in concrete work situations. This allowed me to actively experience things “that are difficult to understand and internalize through purely theoretical descriptions.”
Agile games show that this is indeed also a path that can be taken within training courses. Not only can they be applied to work on one’s own agile mindset, but they can also be done together with others in the team. For example, when it comes to driving agile culture change in the company.
But here is the key question when it comes to taking the first step: What do you want to become agile for in the first place? You can also find approaches on how to make your company more agile, rather than yourself, in this article.
Why become agile in the first place?
I am of the opinion that, especially at the beginning, when it comes to becoming “more agile”, there already are a lot of things that can be done “wrong” – both personally and when it comes to rolling it out company-wide.
Not everyone has to be agile, and agility is not something that is fundamentally desirable – for example, because it is fashionable at the moment. So it’s very important for me to ask at the beginning: Why do I want to work in an agile way at all? In my world, agility is not an end in itself and can differ according to context.
The motivation for action alone reveals a lot about how agility is implemented, because it provides a direction. Or it may not. For example, as an employee, why should I set out to work on my agile mindset if I don’t know what for?
It also shows that the agile mindset cannot be demanded, of course, because only the behavior and not the attitude behind it can be demanded. Therefore, from my point of view, for an agile culture change, especially the will of all involved is crucial, how well the “why” is understood and which resources the responsible persons have to exemplify this mindset.
As mentioned above, agile can sometimes seem very bloated and like an apparent panacea that directly solves all problems. Of course, this is not true. Introducing an agile mindset takes time.
So, in conclusion, my advice is to take the first step by answering why an agile mindset should be used at all, what I hope to gain from it, and whether it can be implemented at all with the current resources – or where I can find those.
Growth Mindset Theory: How does an agile mindset work?
But how does an agile mindset actually work in concrete terms?
I would now like to answer this question with a look at the theory of the growth mindset. However, one thing is certain for me: The Growth Mindset is only a subset of the agile mindset. Nevertheless, it can provide some important impulses and insights and stimulate self-reflection.
How can I recognize a Growth Mindset? And which attitudes help to achieve it?
- Do you rather believe that the skills of a good manager are in the genes?
- Or do you believe that a good manager had to earn his or her skills?
The former could speak for a Fixed Mindset, whereas the latter could speak more for a Growth Mindset.
People with a Fixed Mindset believe that intelligence and talent are fixed traits. In contrast, people with a Growth Mindset believe that people can gain new skills through practice. These people see problems as an opportunity and also enjoy going the distance.
In the image below, I’ve listed common thinking patterns for you that are sure to bring an “aha” effect or two. Rarely, however, does one of the two mindsets apply completely.
Usually we have a Fixed Mindset in one area and a Growth Mindset in another area.
How does an agile mindset manifest itself in practice?
I think a good example of this is our feedback culture, which has already been addressed in another blog article. In terms of agility, I think the topic of feedback is particularly important. After all, agility is based on the need for constant adaptation processes, because what I accept as true today may no longer be valid tomorrow. That’s why the weekly 1:1 conversations with our leads are so important to us.
After all, agility basically means being aware of changes and reacting appropriately to them – so as not to get stuck in processes or the world of “back then”.
For us, leading with agility means setting a specific goal, but leaving the path to it clear. In order to support us in our work in the best possible way, one employee sometimes needs tighter limits and the other fewer limits in order to achieve optimal results. It is then up to the managers to balance this out. Of course, we want to have employees who are as self-organized as possible, and we actively support them in this through coaching and further development, moving toward a “pull principle” for tasks.
The story of how we came to have an office in Berlin – in addition to our offices in Karlsruhe – shows that courage to change also leads to success.
At the time, we already had a client in Berlin and had discussed the possibilities that an office there would offer us. So Christian moved to Berlin and worked from there for our Berlin client. Later, other employees joined us in a shared office and now we can proudly say that we have opened our own office there.
If we hadn’t listened so carefully to our colleague Christian in 2017 – discussed and tested the idea together – and finally had the courage to make something out of it, we might have lost an important employee in the worst case, but in any case we would have had the chance to open an office in Berlin.
These are just a few examples of how we live agility.
True to my motto, agility has to be experienced, feel free to visit us for a cup of coffee. We’re excited to share, too! 😊