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The Agile Mind-Set: Making Agile Processes Work Paperback – July 21, 2015
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The Agile Mind-Set explains the piece of the Agile puzzle that most organizations are missing. -Roger Brown, Agile Coach, Agile Crossing
This book urgently needs to be read by leaders and managers who plan to hop onto the Agile bandwagon. It will help you see through the briar-patch of branded services and ossified processes, to the original intent of 'Agile.' -Rob Myers, Principal Coach/Instructor, Agile Institute
Gil Broza's book has the tools, options, and practices to help people start, restart, think, rethink, grow, and improve their implementation of Agile by grasping the underpinning mind-set. -Gunther Verheyen, Shepherding Professional Scrum at Scrum.org
I return to The Agile Mind-Set repeatedly for inspiration and guidance, and always come away with a constructive way of approaching a challenging situation. -Michael Goitein, Principal Project Manager, Mobiquity
About the Author
Throughout his career, Gil has focused on human characteristics that prevent positive outcomes in teams. These include limiting habits, fear of change, outdated beliefs, and blind spots. In helping teams overcome these factors, he supports them in reaching ever higher levels of performance, confidence, and accomplishment. In 2012, he published The Human Side of Agile, the definitive guide to leading Agile teams. In 2015, he published The Agile Mind-Set, helping practitioners and leaders alike master the Agile approach and make their ways of working truly effective. His latest book, Agile For Non-Software Teams, helps extend Agile transformations to the forgotten roles -- the non-technical teams.
Gil provides training, coaching, consulting, facilitation services, and enablement programs to establish Agile ways of working, fix lackluster Agile attempts, and support ongoing Agile improvement efforts. In addition, he offers much-needed services to help managers, Scrum Masters, and team leaders grow as servant leaders. He is in high demand by organizations looking to fully realize Agile's potential. See his current offerings at 3PVantage.com/services.
- Item Weight : 10.9 ounces
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1514769336
- ISBN-13 : 978-1514769331
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 0.51 x 9 inches
- Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 21, 2015)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #485,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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For the next 90 minutes, he worked us through the thesis of his book: that teams can adopt agile practices and processes, but unless their underlying beliefs and values are consistent with the agile mind-set, the team's results will likely not meet expectations.
A few of Gil's definitions are in order:
1. Values: What you consider most important in the current situation
2. Beliefs: What you hold to be true in that type of situation
3. Principles: Which standards guide your choices, decisions and actions
According to Gil, Agile is anchored in four foundational values - meaning if you choose the Agile approach for the work at hand, your top-ranked values include (and don't contradict) the Agile four:
1. People come first, before product and before process. Those people are everyone with a stake in the work, not just the team that produces it; customers and managers are people too. This value is known in the Agile community as "individuals and interactions."
2. Adaptation. Opportunities and need for change - of mind, of understanding, or of circumstance - will occur; embrace those changes that are worth embracing (e.g. for competitive advantage). Adaptation encompasses the readiness, ability, and willingness to respond to change. The change may apply to people, process, or product.
3. Early and frequent value delivery. The work has some customer, perhaps even several. They might be paying, or not, and they might not be the end users. The workers out to focus relentlessly on doing valuable work and making a difference, so their customers see an early and frequent return on investment.
4. Customer collaboration. The producers of the work ought to collaborate with their customers for the result to truly delight them. It is a spirit of partnership, not of vendor-buying or winner-loser.
Gil goes on to status that Agile has a set of beliefs about people, the work, and the work's customers:
• People. The Agile mind-set is congruent with Theory Y, which says that competent, motivated, trusted, and supported people will do well. Pragmatically, though - the Agile thinking goes - as human beings they will get some (or even many) things wrong. Even when they're right, they're not perfect, but working closely together enriches the outcomes that they could achieve individually. In light of the four values, people with an Agile mind-set believe that the best model that manages the downside and elevates the upside is the self-organizing, collaborative team.
• The customer. Two of the Agile values are focused on the customer - the entity that wants the results of the work (the other values, a little less so). However, the Agile mind-set does not assume that the customer is always right. in fact, its basic belief is that customers can't - and, being adaptive, shouldn't - pinpoint future needs and wants. Moreover, even if they have a good handle on what's needed now, delaying implementation will make those requirements go stale. The sensible thing to do, therefore, is to focus intently on the what the customer needs now, and not commit too far in the future. Knowing top need and fulfilling them is being effective, which from an Agile standpoint matters more than being efficient.
• The work. Even if the four Agile values are indeed your most important values, and even if you agree with the beliefs mentioned so far, what is true of the work? The Agile mind-side is formulated particularly for complex work. As such, it's based on a particular belief: emergence, or evolution - rather than planning - is an appropriate response to complexity. And what's the best enabler of emergence? The short feedback loop. Since feedback, emergence, and adaptation imply frequent change, a key Agile assumption is that the cost of change can remain low. When this isn't the case - for instance in some civil engineering projects - Agile will probably not be a good fit.
Regarding agile practices, Gil has refactored the twelve principles behind the Agile Manifesto into twenty-six, organized into three categories:
1. Principles Regarding People: respect, transparency, trust, personal safety, focus, sustainable pace, self-organization, collaboration, communication, consensus, and leadership
2. Principles Regarding Work: outcome, effectiveness, deference of decisions, simplicity, experimentation, cadence, reliability, cost of change, shippable increments, results, quality, and time-boxing
3. Meta-Principles: feedback loops, continual learning, and continuous improvement
Although I had not seen the fundaments of Agile presented in quite this way, this all seemed like motherhood and apple-pie to me. The ah-ha moment for me was when Gil contrasted these values, beliefs and principles to some deeply held waterfall (or - as I prefer - plan-driven) values (e.g. plan the work and then work the plan, minimize cost and schedule, make accurate commitments, or be able to adjust the resources quickly) and beliefs (e.g. if we do the all the design before starting implementation, we reduce risk and avoid rework, or if we sign-off on requirements now and the team will finish developing them six months from now, the requirements will still be valuable and relevant).
Values and beliefs are deep-seated and hard to change. If the people associated with an agile endeavor (team and/or stakeholders) harbor conventional, plan-drive values and beliefs--and we coaches only teach the principles and practices of agile, then we are at risk of only getting mediocre (or worse) results.
Now (as an old-time project manager), how do we mitigate this risk? Gil says that in his two-day agile training, he spends 3/4 of the time on agile values and beliefs--and the remainder on principles and practices.
I've agile coached in multiple contexts. In general, the least effective for me has been attempting an enterprise-wide transformation with general education and training offerings, followed by what I call "in-situ" coaching of individual teams - meaning observing a team in their current project and offering suggestions for incremental improvements.
Getting the entire team out of their project context for a couple of days, if that is possible, affords the opportunity to help the team explore their values and beliefs in contrast with agile values and beliefs. This is definitely an improvement.
But I've experienced the best results with companies that have established agile solution centers which are founded upon agile values, beliefs, and principles and behave in accordance with agile practices and processes on a day-to-day basis. These companies can then rotate employees through extended stints (e.g. 6 months or longer) in the agile solution center--and then have them return to their home context as agile evangelists.
If we're going to succeed at bringing Agile to greater audiences through Scrum and other practices, we mustn't lose sight of the human psychology (as Gil puts it, values, beliefs, and principles) that drive our behaviors. If Scrum is a map, the Agile mindset is a compass that helps when we're making day-to-day decisions to adapt to the changing terrain.
This book has now become required reading for the Scrum Masters I work with and the "if you have time for only one book" recommendation to the management teams. I can't recommend it highly enough.
In a comprehensive, yet, succinct book, Gil explores the different facets of the agile mentality, all backed by Gil's extensive Agile and technical experience and expertise. In short, you won't find a better book to start your Agile journey. I wish I had had access to this book years ago.
If you or your team decided to to seek agility, this is the book you should read first.
If your team is struggling in your agile journey, this is the book you should read (and consult often).
If you need to attain executive support for agility, this is the book you should share with them.
Start here, and keep the book within arm's length - you will be glad that you did.