My colleague and friend, Anthony Mersino runs VitalityChicago. And agile coaching and training firm in, you guessed it, Chicago. He recently shared a post about 3 Key Steps that leaders should be taking to create business agility. The steps are: 

  1. Get Executive Buy-in and Agile Mindset

  2. Agile Leaders Should Get the Right Mix of Talent

  3. Foster an Agile Friendly Culture and Organizational Structure

While I really like Anthony’s 3 Key Steps, I’d like to add to or augment them…just a little bit.

For #1

In my experience, there’s a HUGE difference between getting buy-in and achieving an agile mindset. Most executives have a modicum of buy-in. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be embarking on an agile journey. However, achieving an agile mindset is different.

It can take years (if ever) for this to occur. But, I agree with Anthony that it’s a crucial step for leaders to take.

Steven Denning has recorded a wonderful video that speak to the leadership agile mindset on InfoQ. I would highly recommend taking a look.

Also, a key here is the self-awareness AND the coachability of the leaders. That is, it’s easy to say you have the mindset. But so much harder to truly have it in your DNA, walking your talk.

For #2

Yes, and Yes!

But, I want to focus down on a specific kind of talent as key. I think getting expert help and guidance in your agile journey is one of the primary success factors in moving an organization towards an agile delivery mindset.

I wrote my own Key Steps article not that long ago, but I only identified two steps. The second focused on getting expert coaching help as part of your agile journey. I would emphasize that here.

So yes, focus on getting the right mix of agile-aware talent. But first, take the time to get an expert navigator to help you.

For #3

First, I don’t think the word foster is right. I guess my point is, leaders should be aware of the fundamental role that they play in creating the culture. Fostering sounds like they’re only along for the ride. Or a casual participant and supporter.

No. They create the environment for agile teams. And with this great responsibility, needs to be great awareness. The culture is essentially a mirror of:

  • How they behave

  • What they reward

  • How they trust

  • The psychological safety they create

  • The attributes they hire for

  • How they listen and react

Here are a few links that further support this idea.




Wrapping Up

The title of Anthony’s article reminded me of the old Lynyrd Skynyrd song – Gimme Three Steps.

Here’s the opening lyrics –

I was cutting the rug
Down at place called The Jug
With a girl named Linda Lou
When in walked a man
With a gun in his hand
And he was looking for you know who
He said, "Hey there, fellow
With the hair colored yellow
Whatcha tryin' to prove?
'Cause that's my woman there
And I'm a man who cares
And this might be all for you
I said, excuse me 

In the songs context, the character was looking for 3-steps to get the heck out of there. But in the agile leadership case, they need to consider these simply 3-steps of many in their agile journey. That’s another step in their agile mindset. That’s there is always work, learning to have, and improvements to make in their personal and their organizational agile journeys. Step 4 perhaps?

Thanks for the inspiration, Anthony!

Stay agile my friends,


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