New Year, New Agile Mindset 

Latest Research and Best Practices for Agile Success

Whether or not you are a resolution-maker, there is something about the new year (and a new decade!) that provides a perfect opportunity for a re-set. Perhaps you ended 2019 in a flurry of activity or took a well-deserved break. Either way, you are likely now back in action and refocusing on your hopes, dreams, and goals for 2020.

In this first Agile Resource Post of the year, I want to seize the opportunity for a mindset shift. When it comes to agility, I am not alone in prioritizing the need for this mindset shift. According to a recent survey of 1,000 executives across industries by Forbes Insights and the Scrum Alliance:

An agile mindset/flexibility are the most important characteristics of today's C-Suite

We may all agree that an agile mindset is an essential aspect of the Agility Shift, but what do we mean by it?

I describe an agile mindset in terms of how it helps us be and what it enables us to do. 

“An Agile Mindset is one that values learning and change over planning and control.”

I have expanded on this understanding of an Agile Mindset in more detail in previous posts.

An Agile Mindset Separates the Most and Least Agile

It makes intuitive sense that those with an openness to new discoveries and change will be more agile. This intuition is confirmed by our recent analysis of more than 1,500 respondents across sectors that shows that an agile mindset separates the most agile from the least, and is deeply intertwined with our ability to be resilient and responsive:

Best Mindset Shift Practices

The good news is that, while your first response to the unexpected and unplanned may not be your most agile, responsive, or resourceful, you can learn to make intentional shifts that put you in an agile state of mind.

Here are some of the most effective strategies I share with my clients:

  • Shift From Planning to Preparing:

    One of the greatest obstacles to agility is our illusion that we can control the future. While Henry Mintzberg’s seminal research found that up to 90% of executive action is ad hoc (meaning, not connected to the strategic plan or even the day’s to-do list), we continue to focus most of our training and attention on the things we (think we) can control. This has led to an over-emphasis on planning and analysis while overlooking the value of building the capacity to respond to the unexpected and unplanned and quickly turn challenges into opportunities. I am not suggesting you throw planning out the window. Rather, that you devote at least an equal amount of resources and intention to your mindset and capabilities for agility.

  • Reappraise the Situation:

    Thriving in change and uncertainty does not mean putting on rose-colored- glasses but instead embracing what researchers Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatt term “realistic optimism,” optimism that includes the current reality. With a realistic understanding of the circumstances, resilient people shift to a positive relationship to the givens of the situation to inspire their constructive attitude and action. Psychologists call this shift “cognitive reappraisal.” How quickly you and your team can make this shift may be the difference between an unbridled success and a missed opportunity.

  • Do what Scares you:

    Because we are hardwired to stay within our comfort zone, we need to seize every opportunity to practice getting “comfortable being uncomfortable.” This practice will come in handy the next time you are thrown into a new and stressful situation or want to jump on a high-stakes opportunity. You will already be familiar with your embodied responses (physical, mental, emotional, relational) and have learned to think and act effectively, even when those reactionary alarm bells are going off. I do my best to practice what I preach, and used this principle to get back into amateur ski racing (see blog post) at an age when most of my peers are looking for more sedentary hobbies. You certainly don’t need to pick up a risky new sport to put this into practice. The point is to intentionally step out of your comfort zone and pay attention to your experience and what shifts you need to make to be effective.  

  • Inventory Your Mindset:

    Awareness is the first step to greater agility. I developed the Agility Shift Inventory for just this purpose—to help leaders at all levels of the organization increase their awareness of their current mindset for agility and use of best practices associated with business results. The inventory is entirely free and only takes 5 minutes to complete. At the end, you will receive a complimentary report that identifies your agility strengths and areas of opportunity along with an Agility Shift Conversation and Catalyst Guide, with reflection questions to help you make the mindset and behavior shift necessary to realize the promise of greater agility.

Do you have an agile mindset? Find out by taking this 5-Minute survey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *