We all have heard at some point that Agile is a Mindset. Not a tool, a software or a methodology. A Mindset. And that we must firstly embrace such Mindset in order to become Agile. OK…

“You have to be in the right mindset to win the match!” — sounds good. Is it enough? Try playing the match without training.

My point is that most of us have been focused on “cleaning” the bad image that Agile has been earning for the last couple of years. Agile Project Managers, Agile equals Scrum. And so on. But we haven’t been going beyond the Mindset. We let it creep on us fast and it basically becomes all. The Mindset. The culture. The way of life.

Buddhism is also a way of life, a Mindset if you will. But you need practice, ground rules, a foundation to build upon. And we, myself included, have been neglecting it. Worst than that, the ones that do not fall in this trap go straight to Scrum. It’s a fallback, I know, and most of our “customers” have heard or know a little bit about Scrum, so we go directly from “This is the manifesto” to “Scrum is a framework”.

What about everything else? What about the process of starting an organisational transformation? Changing a company’s culture needs a process of its own. Changing the culture of a team. Playing around with processes, tools, frameworks. Inspect, adapt. Transparency. Focus. Flow. These are just a very tiny part of the whole Agile Transformation. Sure we must start with the Mindset, but if you don’t follow up and build upon it, what use will it have? To move from the Mindset to a framework is by itself limiting and anti-Agile. To build upon the Mindset by exploring how can we use its teachings to help an organisation is Agile. Because each organisation is unique, and we might even come across an organisation that will not work well with Scrum. Or Agile, for that matter.

So, my personal pledge is to avoid the Manifesto > Scrum path altogether. Yes I may explain the basis of Scrum, or Kanban, or whatever my attendees want me to talk about. But I will not use it as a direct path from the Manifesto.

The Mindset by itself is nothing. We must have actions to follow through. We must listen, study, play, acknowledge, empathise, understand. We must change, offer change, help change, allow change. Then, and only then, we may select a few tools, frameworks, methods, techniques, whatever we may consider it might fit the organisation. And enforce it — not brute force ;-) — and inspect, and adapt, and follow up, change, adapt, inspect again. Always.

The Mindset is the gateway. The path is your choosing. But the Mindset won’t even take the first step. It must be you.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Let me know.