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5 Ways to encourage agile thinking

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Agile is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean? This week, Eliga shares our top tips to build an agile company culture and accelerate innovation. 

 

When we speak of agile mindsets, we are speaking of nimble ways of thinking.

Agile is an adjective that describes an infinite number of things, people, talent, teams, qualities or ideas. It’s the vast application of agile that makes it hard to nail down. In the world of software development, agile is mostly used as a strategy, reducing cycle time and accelerating delivery. While many IT leaders focus their efforts on tools, all too often these leaders overlook the importance of mindsets in business decisions. How can leaders develop and maintain an agile mindset?

Here are five ways to encourage agile ways of thinking in any team or organisation:

 

1. Rock-solid product management

Rock-solid product management comes from comprehensive agile workflows. From visualising what the team will deliver and arranging user stories into sprint swim lanes, it’s important that you don’t overload your team and repeat the same workflow. According to ProdPad, ‘Prioritisation isn’t just about deciding what the development team should work on, it’s also working out where to spend product management time.’ It’s important to take time to analyse past sprints and learn from workflows to improve future workflows. Communication and consistency are essential as this will allow leaders and their teams to scale up or pivot.

 

2. Awesome customer connection

Awesome connections aren’t built overnight, they’re founded on continuous effort. This couldn’t be truer of software development. While it may seem like an obvious point, it’s worth noting that software isn’t built for the technology, it’s built for the users. This has to be the number one priority of any project. Helping the user perform tasks that were once out of reach, solve a problem or perform their job more efficiently are just a few of the goals leaders need to be focused on in any lifecycle. To build customer connections, teams must make customer feedback a priority, taking time to proactively gather it by planning change in increments. This ensures the software is aligned in the right direction.

 

3. Embrace failures as learning opportunities

An agile mindset encourages failure as a necessary step in an accelerated learning curve. By understanding what is false, we are driven towards solutions that satisfy the requirements of the project and its users. An agile mindset encourages fearless innovation, so teams are free to dream up solutions with the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Risks are encouraged as the norm, not the exception. Leaders must focus on exploration, fast experimentation and creating a transparent and open environment where teams feel comfortable to share their failures.

 

4. Collaboration and change are building blocks, not obstacles

According to Gitlab, agile is founded on three powerful principles: iteration, collaboration, and change. Iteration is not only the fastest way to feedback, but it also helps leaders and teams correct their course, creating new features. Iteration thrives in a collaborative environment. Yet, some organisations may struggle to promote a collaborative environment, especially if mistrust and poor communication run rife, encouraged by an antiquated, hierarchical structure. It’s not to say that collaboration can’t happen. It will just take more work and commitment on the part of management.

Developing new workflows and using different tools can bridge the gap, helping teams adapt to change more quickly. Strong agile leaders are comfortable with unpredictability, encouraging teams to pivot to meet customer or organisation demand. Processes or roadblocks that prevent teams from adapting to change should be eliminated.

 

5. Deliver value

Most business goals are measured in output, but agile takes it a step further, refocussing on the outcome of deliverables. By asking how features meet a market need, leaders can ensure their teams think creatively, focusing on how a feature addresses a user’s problem, instead of delivering a set number of items. It’s all about delivering value with an emphasis on quality, not quantity.

Leaders should help teams focus only on activities that create value, deprioritising activities that do not.

 

Is agile one size fits all?

No, agile is adaptable. Just like the technology we build, it’s actively shifting, pivoting to meet customer expectations and demands. It can be adapted to fit a particular team’s dynamics, company culture or business goal to help leaders accelerate delivery. 

Agile mindsets begin with small steps. Avoid the temptation to change your business processes and ways of working all at once. It’s important to help your team transition with minor tweaks. Adopting an angle mindset will allow you to drive innovation, delivering without roadblocks.

 

Need help with agile?

If you would like to build an agile company culture, then please do get in touch. Eliga Services has the knowledge, product, team and experience to transform your workplace.