Embracing the Agile Mindset & Agile’s Core Principles

Added to Mindset

Now that Agile methods have become mainstream in parts of the world, it’s appropriate to reassess our goals and approach in the spirit of uncovering better ways of doing things.

In this very spirit, I had the privilege of meeting with Phil Brock, Ray Arell and Steve Denning recently in Portland to ponder the relationship between Agile software development and  enterprise Agility, now that building software solutions has evolved into an enterprise capability.  It’s not so much a question of expanding the scope of Agile beyond software development as it is embracing the Agile Mindset and Agile’s core principles and practices in all aspects of the enterprise software development capability.

Going into this two-day workshop sponsored by Agile Alliance, our basic premise was this: a key opportunity is scaling Agile into the organizational domain so that the benefits that come from Agile software development principles can be fully realized in an integrated manner at all levels of the enterprise.  In effect, we have discovered that Agile thinking is not exclusively for software development and IT organizations, but rather (it) can provide competitive advantage to any organization.  It is a change in the way that the whole organization thinks, is led and managed.  Indeed, Agility and the Agile Mindset have emerged from Agile’s core principles and practices.

We believe that the Agile Mindset has four basic characteristics:

#ValueMatters - An obsession with continuously adding value for customers.

#SmallMatters - Relentless focus on descaling work so that small batches of work are performed by small teams in small cycles with continuous feedback from customers.

#EcosystemMatters - The Agile ecosystem is the entire organization, not just IT.  The Agile ecosystem cannot flourish and enterprise Agility cannot be realized if the entire organization doesn’t embrace the Agile Mindset.

#CultureMatters - Nurturing the culture is continuous and ongoing to change behavior norms that embrace the Agile Mindset.

In addition to describing the basic characteristics of the Agile Mindset, we discussed these key questions during the workshop:

  • What is the relationship between enterprise Agility and an Agile Mindset?
  • What cultural environment is required to sustain an Agile Mindset?
  • How to engage with executive level individuals to create an Agile Mindset?
  • How can we change the trajectory of the ‘Agile’ hype curve?
  • Who are the key executive stakeholders in typical organizations that can be amplifiers for enterprise Agility?

At the end of the workshop we noted that there are knowledge gaps to fill, constraints to be overcome, opportunities to both enhance communications and interactions with broader business leadership community, and effectively articulate why the Agile Mindset matters so that we can enhance Agile Alliance’s capacity to promote an Agile Mindset based on Agile’s principles and practices.

This two-day workshop was but a beginning – much work remains to develop specific actions that can enhance the advancement of Agile in the enterprise Agility ecosystem.

About the Author

As a senior Executive, I have spent over 30 years leading and advising businesses on designing new operating & engagement models to drive digital transformation and achieve operational excellence and enterprise agility. My passion is 'managing the soft side of technology'© – through the adoption of fundamentally different ways of working, thinking and being.I am recognized by industry peers for my contributions and thought leadership on the topics of enterprise agility, design thinking, and diversity. I recently delivered my first TED Talk at TEDxSanAntonio on ‘agile is change’. I have been a member of the Agile Alliance’s Supporting Agile Adoption Program since 2014. Additionally, I Co-Chaired the Agile Alliance's Agile Executive Forum in 2013 and 2014.I am currently a moderator for the Collaborative Gain – a community of senior leaders who help each other lead innovation and customer-centric change.


This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They do not represent opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.