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The importance of having an agile mindset

by Elizabeth Harmon

When you break it down, agile working is all about being able to move quickly and adapt to change easily.

You may have heard the term ‘agile’ used in relation to the software development industry. And while the concept of agile working was developed specifically for the software industry, many businesses today are seeing the benefits for themselves – whether they’re in IT or not.

Agile businesses can stay competitive by adapting to market changes, by listening to feedback from their customers and by encouraging teamwork and collaboration between employees.

But what does it mean for a person to have an ‘agile mindset’? And why is it so important in today’s workforce?

Read on to find out how to develop an agile mindset and how it can benefit you in your career.

How can an agile mindset benefit you?

What is an ‘agile mindset’?

Agile generally refers to practices, processes and methodologies. But for agile to work effectively, you can’t ignore people and the key part they play in making an agile business a success.

Having an agile mindset means that you’re able to respond quickly and dynamically to changes. It’s about adapting as you go and openly collaborating with other team members to discover the best solution.

People who have an agile mindset generally display the following traits:

  • They’re ready and willing to accept change in a positive way, instead of getting stressed or feeling overwhelmed.
  • They find it easy to adapt to different situations.
  • They’re able to take on constructive criticism.
  • They learn from their experiences (success or failure) and use what they’ve learned to improve future projects.
  • They have a focus on learning, as they strive to continuously develop their skills and knowledge.
  • They value teamwork and collaboration.

Why is it important to have an agile mindset?

Having an agile business is not as important as having an agile mindset. This is because not all businesses benefit from an agile working model. For example, businesses that must follow procedures and adhere at all times to strict guidelines (such as finance or health) can’t adopt an agile model. However, that does not mean that their employees can’t benefit from adopting an agile mindset.

Here are six reasons why it’s important to have an agile mindset:

1. Adapt to change

An agile mindset can help you adapt to change. If you never look up from your regular routine, you won’t realise that the world around you is constantly changing. Change can be difficult, but it’s something you can’t avoid. And you need to be comfortable with change so that you can keep your eyes open for new opportunities for yourself and the business.

2. Overcome obstacles

Do you see obstacles as roadblocks that prevent you from moving forward? Or as challenges to overcome? Having an agile mindset means that you’re ready to find new and innovative ways around obstacles, and to face the challenge in a positive way.

3. Learn and make continuous improvements

If you have an agile mindset, you’re always looking for ways to improve yourself and expand your skillset. This can mean studying a course or collaborating with your colleagues to gather feedback and discover ways to learn and improve.

Technology today moves at an astounding pace. And as technology continues to drive change, businesses and work environments adopt new technology to facilitate improvements. So it’s important that your skills match what the business needs, and that you’re not left behind.

Developing an agile mindset can help you in many different ways throughout your career.

4. Be a valuable team member

As an employee, if you’re standing still and unable to deal with regular change, then you’re putting yourself in a risky position. Team members who are keen to develop an agile mindset are likely to get noticed by managers and may overtake you in terms of promotions or may be looked upon more favourably when it comes to pay reviews. This is because they’re helping the business move forward and adapt successfully to the constantly changing business environment.

5. Encourage innovation and creativity

Having an agile mindset means that you’re always looking for ways to improve, and this means that you have to think outside the box sometimes. It’s also about collaborating closely with co-workers, and bouncing ideas off one another and sharing valuable feedback can often set new ideas in motion.

6. Understand your target audience better

Agile puts a strong focus on the customer experience. An agile business works in short sprints and relies on customer feedback and data to make continuous improvements and to deliver a product or service that customers find valuable. This in turn forces workers to put themselves in the shoes of the customer and really listen to what customers are saying. Adopting an agile mindset means that you’re first and foremost thinking of how you can help customers, instead of getting caught up in technicalities, semantics or politics.

How to develop an agile mindset

To keep up with the constantly changing business environment, it’s important to adopt an agile mindset. Even if you don’t work for an agile business now, that could change in the future. And as we’ve demonstrated with the above six points, having an agile mindset can have huge benefits even if you don’t work for an agile company.

Having an agile mindset can help to make you a better team plater, a more efficient worker and can help you to stand out with management. It can help you take sudden change in your stride, keep a positive outlook on things and constantly look for ways to learn and grow. It can help you to stay engaged and motivated in your role and help you work more efficiently with your colleagues.  

If you’re looking to develop an agile mindset, but aren’t sure where to start, we can help. Open Colleges has teamed up with Elabor8 to bring you the Introduction to Agile online short course.

This online short course will teach you how to adopt an agile mindset and how you can continue to develop and grow. Whether you’re a Manager looking to get the most out of your team, or you’re looking to advance your own career and find more efficient ways of working, this course can help.

What are you waiting for? Enrol today and discover how agile can transform the way you work.

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