7 signs to measure your personal agility

An all-too-frequent conversation topic that I have with teams goes something like this: “we’re one of the highest performing scrum teams in the organisation — we consistently hit our velocity of 28 points every sprint, our stand ups never run over time and our retrospectives keep a similar format and always take no longer than 30 minutes.” When I hear a response like this, it instantly triggers a flood of questions, in particular whether the individuals in the team are simply ‘doing’ agile or ‘being’ agile.

To be agile it requires you to delve deeper and get more involved, which comes from embracing the values and principles found in The Agile Manifesto. Before agility can be realised at the organisation and team levels, it needs to start with the individual. Personal agility is all about the qualities, values and behaviours that people bring to the table.

So what are some of these qualities then? Well, I’ve had a stab at highlighting 7 signs to determine whether you are demonstrating true agility and are making meaningful changes to you, your team and organisation:

1. You are comfortable with uncertainty: Are you are able to work outside of a predefined process or role and willing to develop your T-shaped skills? Do you view uncertainty as this inevitable event and have ways of dealing with this change?

2. You embrace a growth mindset: Dr Carol Dweck coined the term ‘growth mindset’ which describes someone who is constantly seeking opportunities for growth and is willing to work outside of their comfort zone. Do you have a growth mindset and are open to innovate in order to help improve?

3. You are courageous: Do you accept feedback and are open and honest about yourself and where you are today so that you can accurately reflect on what is working and what needs improvement?

4. You are proactive in managing your workload: Are you aware of the amount of in-progress activities that you are working on? Are you strict and conscious in completing a piece of work before agreeing to accept another? Do you prioritise the work in your backlog ensuring you are constantly working on the highest value pieces of work?

5. You are curious: do you constantly ask ‘why?’ and are passionate to learn? Questions such as “How can we simplify? How can we do better?” “What if…?” are always being asked.

6. You have experimentation in your DNA: Do you encourage people around you to run a lot of small experiments (e.g. “have you considered validating your idea by talking with a few customers?”) designed to generate information to learn from and improve performance?

7. You place value in building relationships: Do you actively listen to others without judging to understand and engage others in ways that make them feel safe? Do you see the value in investing time and energy in creating stronger, trusting relationships that create frequent, authentic lines of communication essential in a successful team?

The tools and practices (i.e the ‘doing’) that we use on a daily basis are important, but fundamentally it’s the approach, traits, and behaviours — our mindset — that makes the greatest difference in achieving true agility.

How many of these signs could you say you could genuinely demonstrate? Are there any of these you could focus on as an area for improvement? Be the change you want to see in others and start strengthening your personal agility today.

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