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John P. Reiling, PMP: How to Develop an Agile Mindset


There are two fundamental approaches to managing projects – typically software development projects. The waterfall method is the older approach and is based on working through all of the requirements before proceeding with building the application. By contrast, the agile approach acknowledges the pace of change, the time value of software features and functionality, and the difficulty in understanding or predicting needs.

The waterfall method “feels” more stable, controllable, and predictable. But is that really true? An agile approach, however, provides techniques for dealing with instability, predictability, and control-ability. Here is how agility – starting with leaders with an agile mindset – handles instability, predictability, and control-ability.

In contrast to the waterfall method of planning a project from beginning to end, the agile mindset enables us to handles instability, predictability, and control-ability by getting you to think about delivering value early and often – not just at the end, where we risk that the value we thought might be realized at the end would fall short.

It has always been easier to predict and control near-term than long-term outcomes. With an agile mindset, you can deal with the pace of change, particularly of technological and related change, by focusing on shorter term results – and by developing confidence that an accumulation of positive short term results provides the best long term results.

The old approach was to seek stability by focusing on the long term. The agile mindset, however, is that shorter term focus for results can be more fruitful and can enable you to create your own stability and gain a greater degree of control than ever.

The key is to picture yourself acting, adjusting, and adapting…and succeeding. You don’t have to fear change or failure. You simply need to be able to develop the confidence that you will monitor the results of your actions and make adjustments along the way in a sort of organic manner.

An agile mindset is an approach that can win today. It’s a natural. It does take a little courage…but it’s a much more natural prospect than the type of temporary stability. You must develop the perspective and resilience to deal with uncertain and erratic situations with steadiness. You must develop an agile mindset! Developing an agile mindset is not a prescriptive thing. It’s organic and something that you learn to practice by just doing it.

What can you do to adopt an agile mindset?

John Reiling, PMP
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