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7 Mistakes Managers Make With Agile

Bobby Gill | July 5, 2018


By now, it’s fair to say that agile project management practices can benefit just about any organization. A recent survey of more than 10,000 managers around the world reveals that nearly all of them consider agility to play an essential role in their success.

That said, business leaders who are accustomed to traditional management styles may have trouble adjusting to an agile methodology. That’s because it represents a fundamentally different approach to doing business than most companies are accustomed to.

Traditionally, an organization simply worked to most efficiently leverage the full potential of its established business model. A company that utilizes agile management, on the other hand, is much more fluid. Everyone involved is constantly learning and seeking new ways to provide value to customers. Agile methodologies also involve small teams completing relatively small tasks in short cycles, instead of large teams working on major projects with no opportunity to adjust the course.

The following represent some of the main reasons some managers struggle to adopt agile project management methods. Luckily, by understanding the obstacles, it’s easier to overcome them.

Shifting Goals Through Agile Management

Up until recently, accepted wisdom stated that all smart business leaders had one goal in mind: make more money for the company.

The agile methodology shifts the company’s goals. Instead of focusing on making money, the attention turns to creating value for the customer. This results in more revenue as businesses that serve their customers better tend to make more sales. However, adopting agile methodology as a new mindset can be a struggle for a manager.

Creating New Markets

Agile project management offers business leaders a different way of perceiving competition. In most industries, the goal is simply to add new features to a product in order to stand out from others offering similar goods. Unfortunately, competitors usually match those features quickly. This makes it difficult to stay ahead.

Agile management involves creating a new market for people who aren’t existing customers. Instead of improving products to better serve the current customer base, agile managers also focus on seeking ways to attract new followers and understand users.

Agile Management Creates New Approaches to Communication

Traditional project management strategies usually rely on established processes. Although these typically involve opportunities for teams to communicate with managers, they tend to be scheduled, therefore making it difficult to efficiently make adjustments when necessary.

Agile management values people over processes. It states that allowing for constant communication is important. If teams are trained to simply follow specific processes, they won’t learn to break free of them.

Limited Adherence to a Plan

Again, one of the key distinctions of agile project management is the focus it gives to completing small tasks with minor iterations using small teams. This benefits the process because it increases opportunities to make changes based on new insights or findings. Unlike traditional methods, which strictly involve following a plan, agile methodology encourages constant adjustment.

Focusing on an Agile Project Management Mindset

Managers who’ve relied on processes often struggle with agile project management because it’s more about adopting the right mindset. Agile management is essentially a way of seeing the company from a new perspective, one which values growth and fluidity. Managers who are accustomed to implementing rigid processes need to unlearn their old habits of thinking.

Valuing the Team Over the Strategy

A strong project strategy isn’t effective without the right team to execute it. That’s why an agile methodology prioritizes building projects around individuals, instead of planning the project and then choosing individuals to work on it. Teams should be motivated, innovative, and willing to work independently while also being open to communicating whenever necessary.

Redefining Roles With Agile Management

This increased focus on individuals over strategies also reshapes the role each person plays in the organization. The traditional top-down structure is less relevant in an agile environment. The entire company network should be part of one growing organism, so to speak. Managers must accept that anyone could come up with an innovative or valuable idea.

Essentially, agile managers don’t see themselves or their companies as rigid entities; they appreciate the benefit of fluid approaches and a constant focus on customer satisfaction. While adapting to this new model of an agile methodology may prove challenging to some, by identifying roadblocks managers can find ways to work through them.

Bobby Gill
Co-Founder & Chief Architect at BlueLabel | + posts

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