Four crucial steps to start your Agile journey (A map for change agents)

In Agile, everything is about people. 

This is the sentence we all need to acknowledge in order to be able to understand the Agile Way of Work. 

Agile Way of Work is a journey, a clear implementation path for inevitable change we all are facing. 

Having the right people at the right place with the right mindset is a recipe for success. 

Caring about your people, every single day, is what creates differences among companies. 

Every single company has a unique path to overcome uncertainty in the business environment. 

Agile can provide speed, agility, and transparency on that path. 

Although there is no recipe for Agile implementation, following the four milestones or steps of that process can create a good guidance to your North star. 

Provide safe-learning environment for a change 

You cannot just come to your employees and say: “we are starting an Agile journey”, or “an agile transformation”. This statement will trigger a lot of fear and anxiety among employees. And this is a normal reaction to change, which needs to be mitigated somehow. 

By providing a safe-learning environment, you will absorb the uncertainty of the “Agile starting” phase. Start changing communication, how people are related to failure, how they should see their learning process. That will be a decent foundation for the next milestones you wish to implement. 

Develop an Agile Mindset 

After you provide (or start providing) a safe-learning environment, the next step is to develop an Agile mindset. You can do it by communicating agile values and agile principles. Only employees who truly understand these great values can really embrace them. For this reason, leaders should also be dedicated teachers, and team members will take joy in learning. 

Leaders must also change agents, who will champion agile journey and build foundation for it. This process will take some time, and you need to devote most of your time to this step. Otherwise, you are likely to fail. 

Set the right framework 

Only when you see some positive changes in behavior and the way people start learning from failures should you start with processes and tools. This is a right example of the first agile value: “People and interactions over processes and tools.” Of course, you shouldn’t wait for full implementation of the agile mindset because this is a two-way street. Practicing and understanding the agile way of work will create a “snowball effect”. That is the way we can create this ever-learning loop.

Talk to your employees, every day 

No one said it would be easy. Make sure to have regular follow ups, communicate the change, and ignite some actions based on the feedback you get from the employees. Address uncertainty and anxiety, listen to your people and encourage them to believe in the process. Create some fun, entertainment and engage people to do the same. Only things that are not said cannot be solved. Create enough space for conversations and constantly promote the company WHY. 

This is not a manual for implementing an agile way of work. There is no such a thing because every company is unique. This “map” should ignite some thoughts on how to implement changes in your environment. And remember, every journey starts with a first step. 

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