A Nudge for Your Agile Implementation

Has your Agile implementation plateaued — despite improvement efforts?

If so, it might need a nudge.

The most common nudge is for teams to attend an off-site. However, their discussions are limited by their current knowledge and habits.

A more powerful nudge is mindset-focused training — for entire teams with their leaders, or for cohorts of leaders.

Mindset is the abstract and subjective way people make choices. It’s not immediately apparent in popular practices. For example, it’s not obvious that the daily standup requires psychological safety to be useful, or that planning with backlogs implies a preference for effectiveness over efficiency.

This is the part of Agile that matters, because it determines people’s behaviors and therefore the outcomes they accomplish.

Mindset training, then, isn’t about Agile practices or tools (which the teams got in their initial training). It’s about showing up and engaging in an Agile way. It also upgrades participants’ understanding so they can have more advanced conversations about succeeding together. That’s what makes it a powerful nudge.

A recent session of my Leader’s Guide to the Agile Mindset triggered management discussions, which brought up various realizations and sentiments. Here are three examples: “The commitments we make to individual clients crowd out changes that are useful to our wider client base,” “We don’t think about work-in-progress at the department level,” and “We should look into setting better client expectations, already at the contracting stage, regarding how we work.”

At another company, program managers who are rethinking the heavy approach to quarterly planning attended this training. They were stoked to realize and discover how to upgrade the planning process in an evolutionary manner.

Since mindset training focuses on how to think rather than how to do — it’s not prescriptive — participants find it very empowering. In many team-level cases, participants proceeded to redesign their workflow, restructure their meetings, and create a more collaborative relationship between product/business and delivery.

If you’d like to explore this avenue with me, let’s talk.

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