Agile Mastery Begins with Personal Mastery

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Are You the Ideal Candidate to Lead Agile Change?

The concept of Agile tends to be overrun with buzzwords, but the key is truly about focusing on one thing--Having the right mindset. Before someone can become an agile master, it’s important for them to take a step back and determine if they are willing to become a leader of change.

Agile mastery begins with personal mastery. People tend to focus on the external. They look at how they can change the organization or the team and forget about the adjustments they can make within themselves. The change we can all do on an individual level. There are many different personality types, and those who are risk-averse may feel like agile does not come naturally to them, so that is why it is crucial to instill an agile mindset from the start for success.

An agilist is someone who sees themselves as a leader and a change agent. They are willing to step forward, adapt, and grow with changing situations - and inspire those around them to do the same. Agile is truly a team effort where everyone comes together to play their role regardless of where they may fall within the hierarchy of the organization. If an agile pattern of behavior does not run consistently throughout the organization, dissonance will occur. This disorder can lead to goals not being met, failure to adapt to changing plans, unnecessary conflict, inadequate resources, and more because the organization is not aligned in their objectives and their vision. This is why an internal change - a shift in mindset, as well as external change in structure and actions are important. When someone has successfully adapted an agile mindset, they become a role model, inspiring innovation, collaboration, and cohesion.


Group of 3 implementing agileSuccessful Agile Puts Words into Action

When someone attempts to adapt agile mastery without adopting the mindset, it is apparent to everyone around them. Not only will team members notice that the words do not match the behavior, but customers will notice as well. They will see the lack of follow-through from words to actions. New procedures will not be implemented because teams will view it as a meaningless change. They will fall easily back into old habits that don’t align with the agile mindset when times are tough. This is why being committed to agile is so important. When someone, especially a leader, shows that they will not follow through with agile, it reads as a lack of confidence in the adoption. They’re telling other people to change, but instead of being a role model for change, everyone else will follow in their footsteps of returning to what is known and what is easy.


The Most Important Takeaway: Inside-Out

This is why it’s important to view agile adoption as an inside-out shift first. Agile isn’t just something you do, but it’s something you become. That’s why you must think of agile mastery as a transformation. It should be a full organizational change, starting with yourself. Agile is not just about being able to change your plans when it’s easy, but when it’s hard. You have to be willing to change even in the moments when risk is at its highest. It’s about being consistent in every culture, behavior, and principle you set for your organization. When your organization continues to operate with an agile mindset, even when pressure is on, that is the best sign you have transformed and mastered agility.


When Change Becomes Habit, It Becomes Easier

Agile master teaching a team member how to be agile

It’s the age-old adage: Are you talking-the-talk and walking-the-walk? Do your promises align with your actions? Are you just communicating and facilitating your teams’ changes? Are you following through and making sure they are given the tools and opportunities to deliver? All of this makes a difference as far as whether the transformation will be successful. When the transformation is genuine and authentic, it becomes a model for what is possible, and it will inspire further change. These are the people who won't see a system that gets the bottom line done as a system that works, instead they will work to fix some of the underlying issues that people have been complaining about for years. Every small action will inspire people to want to follow through and become agile masters organically.


How to Move Forward: One Step At a Time

This is why it’s important, as an agile change agent and leader, to reflect on whether or not you have an agile mindset. Research agile leadership principles and ethics and think about how you can incorporate them into your personal and professional life. Be open to change and willing to adapt on the fly. These are key traits of agile, but do not come naturally to everyone. Make minor changes, such as trying something from a sushi restaurant when you’ve never tried sushi, setting personal goals even when your performance isn’t being tracked, encouraging the discussion of new ideas, or being more proactive and open to emerging market trends. These are the types of small steps you can take. The more small steps you take, the easier the big steps will become, and soon agile will be your natural mindset and how you naturally come to approach problem solving.



First Step: Journaling, Small Changes

One recommendation for beginning your adventure into agile mastery is journaling. Through journaling, you can discover opportunities where you can adapt and improve yourself. Actively take notes of the steps you’ve made to incorporate a more agile lifestyle into your work environment and the results you gained from these experiences. You can also actively research agile methodologies from books and articles and use your journal to note how these could be applied to your organization to fix issues, capitalize on opportunities ahead of the competition, and build on what works to be even better. The process will also allow you to see the journey of your transformation, so that you can take a look back and see how far you’ve come. You will see that the agile way of thinking has become more instinctive and natural to you, like a way of life, which is the ultimate goal. Over time, you will see that you truly took the journey of mastering agile inside and you were able to show those around you how agile can benefit the organization.


Begin Your Journey and Remember That Change Will Get Easier

As you begin your journey into becoming an agile master, remember that the key to success is being open to adapting your way of thinking and striving for personal growth. It’s essential to come into the process with this mindset and fully commit to the role of becoming an agent of change within your organization, because this will inspire everyone around you to believe in the authenticity of agile and they will do the same. It’s important to remember that the journey to agile mastery is not always one that happens quickly. It can take time, but it will become easier and it will eventually become second nature. When those around you learn about the agile methodology from your words, see the follow through in your actions, and witness the success of your commitment to agile, every small action will inspire people to want to become agile masters organically.

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