Agile Gratitude—It's In Our DNA!

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Agile Gratitude—It's In Our DNA!

Having an Agile mindset and a focus on Psychological Safety is an evolutionary advantage in this post-pandemic, pre-recession VUCA world—It's in our DNA!

· Agile Zone ·
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Despite the title, this is not about some form of new contortionist Yoga or some developer-only meditation technique (Is there one? There should be one) but about the fact that we should acknowledge we’ve been lucky to have been Agile before this “historical moment” hit. 

As we are designing our "Emotional Intelligence Trainer" feature in our Psychological Safety Team Solution I realized the great differentiator in how to approach the learning, is whether or not they were part of an Agile team. And yes, furthermore, whether or not they were truly “Agile in their DNA” or on paper only. 

If they aren't, then they are in such a different place mentality wise that they need to comprehend and embrace concepts we take for granted when it comes to being human, whereas talking to Agile people about emotions is not only a pleasure but so much more efficient. A lot can be skipped. 

For one thing, we don’t need to expound masses of time and effort reiterating the importance of the team, of Psychological Safety in itself or of having and growing one’s EQ in particular. They know. They learned it by the side of a sprint or basking in a blameless retro’s afterglow, not from a Forbes article. 

And then the blessed presence of the understanding that to get anywhere you need to split things into incremental tickets and grab the ones you can do right away. That’s a monumental action-based mentality difference from most sequential thinkers that isn’t celebrated enough. In other words, having a Backlog discipline alone makes their People Practice more possible.

Aside from those, it made me think how much we owe to an Agile mindset. How much easier things are once you have it “in your bones”. 

It’s tempting to chuck it all under “well, of course, Agile people are adaptable - they’re flexible and resilient by definition so of course they coped better with this VUCA on steroids episode” and that’s, evidently true, but it’s worth dissecting what that means for a minute.

When you’re Agile at heart you have:

  • Hope and optimism - Even the darkest of souls and the most staunch of pessimists will have to bow to the evident truth that, once you have a cyclical short loop there’s reason to believe things will always get better.;
  • The infamous “solution/growth mindset” - Nothing can be found to be an insurmountable problem but the wrong reframe. There’s no way you will down tools and give up when you know you can safely fail so you’re invited to try other ideas;  
  • Fun - Gusto for the work, high morale call it what you will but the engagement levels in Agile teams is always higher by an order of magnitude from the levels of other teams and that helps. It’s joyful to create together in the right team where oftentimes there’s banter and laughs;
  • A sense of community - Not only is there this magical feeling of “awww there are other humans like me who get it” when you look around yourself online which helps with keeping one’s sanity, but if you’re truly Agile then you have a tight communication channel with your end consumers as well so the reality is shared and bearable;
  • Curiosity and a need to tinker and experiment - Having an insatiable thirst for new and knowledge is part of the Agile DNA and it keeps our mental wheels forever turning which, if nothing else keeps us busy in a positive fashion and ideally also brings about new ideas we can get excited about;
  • Trust in each other and yourself - An invaluable win that can’t be overstated. 
  • Belonging - Implied in the above but even bigger as it’s tinged with an understanding of the common purpose and shared dreams too, feeling like you’re part of something can indeed carry us through a lot;
  • A “spring back” belief - The core of resilience - an unshakeable belief in the ability to overcome and prevail that’s not stated or loud but underpinning our every action. 
  • The self-explanatory - Comfortability with uncomfortable change.

What you don’t have as an Agile human is: job security, infinite savings, a crystal ball or a different reality from the traumatic one we’re all experiencing but you have all of the above while your counterparts have had to make do without most, if not all of them.

So yes, there’s plenty of reason to be grateful. If you’re an Agile human - be it a developer, PO, a scrum master, a coach or a rare superhero Agile business person, close your eyes and imagine for a moment that all of the 2020 madness would have found you in an office in the middle of discussing requirements for risk mitigation of a 3-year roadmap. HOW?!? What are the ways in which that would have translated to anything other than a terrifying holding pattern underpinned by anxiety-driven endless emails, an uncertainty-ridden interminable carousel of zoom meetings with no resolutions, and a generalized feeling of overwhelm and dread? What kind of extreme mental tax would you have had to have paid to traverse this period in a state of lack of progress, cognitive dissonance, and stagnation? Because no matter if non-Agile organizations still managed to look busy during this or not, we all know they have been practically frozen in time waiting for the world to fall back on its axis and give them back their A2 planning sheets. And the world has a big nasty surprise in store for them.

So count yourself lucky and be grateful because without having comfortably already have been settled in a space where hope, growth, tenacity, belonging and trust resided, this would have been even harder and what’s coming next, likely majorly painful yet again, impossible. 

May everyone get and Stay Agile to have more to be grateful for!

"Don't send your teams home with a laptop, a Jira and Slack account and a prayer!"

agile mindset, culture change, people, performance, psychological safety, teams

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