What makes the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is the mindset.
Carol Dweck, one of the leading practitioners in the field of motivation, writes in “Mindset: The new psychology for success”, about fixed and growth mindsets. Dweck argues that we all are a combination of both, depending on the context.
In a fixed mindset, people believe their personal attributes are fixed. Their talents and skills are everything they are ever going to have. They don’t allow themselves the luxury of becoming. A fixed mindset is ultimately a fear of making mistakes and a desire to be perfect.
While a fixed mindset is about the final result, a growth mindset is about the journey. Our basic talents and personal attributes can be developed through learning, mentorship, and personal experience. Everyone can grow. Life is a learning experience, and outcomes are by-products of learning and developing. Results don’t define who we are; they accompany the journey.
The principles of Agile software development are about cultivating an agile mindset. The agile organisation fosters a culture of growth, creating equal opportunities to experiment and learn from failure fast and cheap. In an ever-changing world, the capacity to respond to uncertainty creatively and spontaneously is paramount.
In the article “The five trademarks of agile organisations”, the authors write that in an agile company, “the North star is embodied across the organisation”. In other words, coherent teams work towards the same purpose; they are customer- focused and committed to delivering value to stakeholders.
The agile organisation is “a network of empowered teams”. Employees with a growth mindset encourage personal and professional development and help others succeed. The “waterfall organisation” with a fixed mindset thinks people need to be directed and managed otherwise they don’t know what to do. In a growth organisational culture, networks are a natural, democratic way of organising individuals.
A rapidly evolving environment urges companies to seize opportunities and make decisions fast. Whether they use design thinking, lean or other frameworks for development, companies have to act fast, test, learn and improve the organisation’s capacity to innovate. The agile organisation doesn’t seek consensus decisions. Everybody is welcome to give their input, but priority is given to those with more expertise. Team members learn to “disagree and commit” to allow the project to move forward.
Agile companies hire people who are committed to putting in the effort to create meaningful work. They are passionate people proactively seeking ways to improve their skills and abilities to perform in their roles. When trained and empowered to manage, they will grow into leaders that will enable others to collaborate and deliver exceptional results. Leadership can only happen in positive, high-trust organisations.
Technology is a growth enabler. In the agile organisation “technology is seamlessly integrated. It is a means to unlock value and enable quick reactions to business and stakeholder needs.” Traditional products and services will have to keep pace with the developments in technology and the increasing customer demands.This process will require the implementation of technology, systems and tools.
Today’s competitive environment forces organizations to embrace an agile mindset and exhibit the five trademarks discussed: strong teams that work towards the same goals, networks of empower individuals, rapid cycles of acting and decision, the belief that passion, commitment and self-improvement is the way forward, and understanding the role of technology in building an innovative organization.