What is agile? Agile is a mindset. What is a mindset? A set of assumptions, methods, or notions held by a group of people that motivates these people to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviours, choices, or tools. Simply put, it is a way of thinking about things that is shared by the group such that it becomes a way of life. So, what is the agile mindset? The agile mindset is a set of attitudes and beliefs supporting an agile work environment and agile practices, such as continuous collaboration, flexibility, openness, trust, growth, learning, value focus, waste minimisation and safety to fail, so that teams become high-performing despite operating in an environment of constant and rapid change.
The agile mindset enables teams, and organisations, to truly adopt the agile values and principles to reap real benefits, not simply go through the motions and just do the agile practices and ceremonies. More and more importance is placed on the need for teams to collaborate well to deliver successful business outcomes. Teams that work effectively together are the key to providing real value to project stakeholders and end customers alike. To collaborate well, team members need awareness beyond their individual self to be more connected with people, composed, calm, open to new ideas and different ways of thinking and working.
Mindful agile is the perfect combination of the agile mindset and mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the quality or state of being fully conscious or aware. So for individuals and teams to develop the agile mindset and work well in a collaborative, agile manner, mindfulness is required. Mindfulness is the secret ingredient to real agile success, enabling real collaboration, starting with the traits we need at an individual level that lead to more effective interactions at a team level. After all, the first value from the agile manifesto is, “individuals and interactions over processes and tools”.
Benefits of mindfulness include increased focus, clearer thinking, stress reduction, better decision making, along with increased happiness and feeling of well-being. In agile teams, mindfulness allows teams to be truly alert to what is happening with the work, the team, customers’ needs and what is (or is not) valuable. Mindfulness is also associated with increased creativity and innovation. When our minds are disturbed with hundreds of thoughts, full of our own perceptions, as well as bombarded with stress and emotions, we simply cannot be creative or collaborate effectively.
Through mindfulness, our minds become more clear and calm. Thoughts and emotions settle and subside, allowing us to open our minds, suspend judgement and be more empathetic. Our minds become free to think about delivering solutions that meet our customers’ needs in new and improved ways. Mindfulness also allows us to respond to each other and work together with greater cooperation, which is the essential ingredient for agile team success.
So mindful agile is the perfect combination of the agile mindset and mindfulness. Mindful agile allows organisations and teams to build an agile culture that truly embodies the agile values and principles, and ‘be’ agile, not just ‘do’ agile.