Barriers to a Lean Agile Mindset

I am committed to answering all questions posed in my SAFe classes. In the 2 years of conducting these classes, I have observed certain patterns in the questions being asked. These patterns are a deterrent to adopting a Lean Agile Mindset.

In this blog, I talk about these patterns and offer ways of avoiding them, to help individuals attend the classes with an open mind.

First, let’s take a look at some of the commonly asked questions.

  • Is SAFe CMMi Assessed/ISO certified?
  • We will still need to measure individual performance - how do we do that?
  • How do we measure
    • Agility
    • Lean Agile Leadership
    • Innovation
  • How can we keep capacity buffer without lowering our productivity?
  • This will not work for us as we have penalty based contract
  • What happens in a managed services scenario?
  • You mean in Agile the estimates are not reviewed and ratified by a senior person?

There are common patterns that can be derived from these questions.

One of them is the issue of trust. We just don’t want to trust anyone in the organization. So we need verification, metrics, evaluation, etc. One of the major blockers to developing a Lean Agile mindset is the tendency to be mistrustful of everyone. We spend a quarter of our lives with our colleagues but we do not want to trust them!

A Lean Agile mindset is based on trust, openness and transparency. Learning how to trust people is the biggest leap to be made.

Another pattern is how the questions are based on the world as we know it, current criteria, context and frame of reference. All this is changing rapidly. new ways of working, and the different qualities that are needed in a leader and the organization today cannot be measured and calibrated with the old way of doing things. As the saying goes,“New Wine in Old Bottle!!” the questions need to change.

The third pattern is the deep-rooted attachment to individual assessment process. It is challenging to imagine a way of working without this and risk losing all the star performers. Again, not understanding that the definition of a star performer is also undergoing a change…

Several learners also come to the training with the idea of problem solving - which is not the purpose of these training.It is more to tool the learners with proven concepts that they have to apply in their context to make them work.

One suggestion I give my class is to think about how can they make the concepts work in their environment instead of finding a zillion reasons for them failing.

The way to avoid these pitfalls of using old ways to measure new concepts, is to leave your baggage outside, and come in with a fresh learner’s mind. Learn, reflect and use what feels right, reject what doesn’t.

What are your thoughts?

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