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Switching to the Agile Mindset

16 June 2016

Cognizant Technology Solutions

When teams move from the traditional Waterfall process to Agile practices, it’s not simply a process change; it requires a mindset change for everyone involved with the program or project. The Agile coach or ScrumMaster must guide and mentor all associated business partners and development teams in switching to the Agile mindset. The change in thinking is essential for a timely delivery of business value according to the customer’s expectations.

To change the Agile mindset, follow these best practices.

Understand the vision

Understanding the road map or product vision helps the team focus and prepare for work in an Agile environment. Convey a high-level vision to the teams at the beginning of the project. Keeping teams informed about high-level objectives supports the campaign to bring agility to the team. It’s also important to realize and communicate which benefits the business is deriving by adopting Agile practices.

Work in collaboration

Collaboration is one of the key elements that assists with becoming Agile. Traditional teams implement goals according to the assigned work or module, whereas Agile teams work in short iterations that require a better understanding, clarity, and collaboration with business partners and other teams.

Collaboration promotes continuous improvement through regular feedback and inspection and adaptation. The team can suggest steps toward clarity and request more details about the business requirements; the customer can review the completed work and provide feedback. Collaboration is required not only within one team; it’s about collaborating with everyone involved with the project or program.

Be transparent

New Agile teams struggle to disclose their progress, queries, issues, or impediments. Transparency is key both from a team's and customer's perspective. Teams need to be transparent so that their work progress can easily be seen by all associated with the project. In case the team needs any clarification or is blocked, the required assistance can be provided. The customer also needs to convey any changes that are happening at the business end, as and when required. This cultivates an Agile environment.

Accept change

In an Agile setting, change is an essential element. Change in an Agile environment could be business requirements change, priorities change, and/or technical change, which is essential as part of engineering practices. Planning in Agile is always continuous, and teams adapt to changing needs and priorities. The coach supports the team here to know the process better and understand how a change can be accommodated based on the process standards and guidelines. Change acceptance develops agility in a team.

Commit to the team's common goal

Under the traditional process, team members might work or commit to their own individual assignments. In Agile, it’s important to understand team-level objectives, iterations, and release targets of the team. Agile is about working toward a common goal (sprint or release targets). A coach develops self-organization through initiatives, vision sharing, and commitment.

Coach continuously

New teams require continuous coaching or guidance. It’s necessary as someone can observe and see where the team is lacking and provide the necessary guidance to foster agility in teams. Coaching should be provided to all associated with the project, including the customer and teams.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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