Agile mindset: Making agile more than just a development methodology
[caption id=”attachment_868” align=”alignright” width=”332”] Mindset is everything[/caption] To software developers, the word “agile” usually conjures up thoughts of project tracking, story points, and team velocity. To truly be the most effective developer that you can be, the word agile should also remind you that change is constant and that you must adapt. An agile mindset is the greatest tool a software developer can possess. Too many software developers fall into the routine of their process. We work our stories, finish our sprints, and move on to the next iteration. While this does allow software to be produced in a predictable manner, it also can shackle developers. When facing a new challenge that challenges their existing mindset, these shackles can hold a developer back.
Scenario: Moving offices
Moving is a fact of life in most businesses. From the biggest corporations, to the smallest startups, eventually someone in charge is going to want to re-arrange the office space. Some people just can’t handle this. They will complain and bellyache about how the move is going to disrupt the project. Sometimes this is true. Most of the time… the project will be just fine. Fixating on your work space is like fixating on your platform. If something comes along and challenges your platform (think about when apps first started moving to the web), how should you react? Fear is understandable as a reaction. Change can be scary, but it can also be the chance to do something exciting. Just like moving to a new office can open opportunities to meet new people, changing platforms can offer the chance to learn a new valuable skill.
Scenario: Changing equipment
Recently, my employer decided to mix things up as they were renovating the offices. They are going to try a new floor plan, and one of the changes is to not have external monitors. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom for software developers. “More monitors equals more productivity!” has been the rallying cry for years. But what if it doesn’t? Last year I wound up spending about 6 months or so using only 1 screen. While reviewing my stats on Rescuetime (great app, you should totally use it!) I noticed that this year my distracted time is up over last year. Most of the developers around me are very “unexcited” about this proposed change, even if it is only for a week or two. I’m actually looking forward to it.
Why be excited about a change like that?
By having an agile mindset I see this as a chance to find out what is the cause of my recent uptick in distracted time. If it is true that a second monitor is causing me to pay too much attention to Jon Sonmez videos, then this experiment will confirm it. The key word is “experiment”. Look at changes as experiments: If a little change leads to a better workflow, then it was an optimization. If things got worse, then you now know. But if you never conduct the experiments, you will never know. If you always live in your comfort zone (also known as a rut), you will never know.
Develop your agile mindset
The next time your boss tells you something that makes you wince, pause. Quickly pick one thing about this new info that could be awesome. Decide that you are going to find out if this could be true. Here are some examples:
- The boss says we are moving: This could be a chance to get a short commute or to work from home one day a week!
- The company is moving to a new platform: Alright! I’m going to learn some new technology that I might be able to leverage into a new higher paying job!
- “We are going to downsize to use less equipment” Well Buddha says that attachment is the root of suffering, so maybe this is a chance to be happier with less crap…