Agile Tools, Agile Mindset: What’s More Important?

When it comes to agility, place your bets on mindset, not on tools.

The attendees in my virtual presentation at the PMI Virtual Experience event asked such great questions! But there were a few left in the queue when we ran out of time. Today, and in two more blogs after the holidays, I’ll be answering these remaining questions, as well as encouraging readers to get in touch with me and ask more!

One of the attendees was a bit disappointed that I didn’t talk much about specific agile tools:

«I was hoping for more specific guidance on how to turn infrastructure (typical waterfall projects) into more agile types of efforts using the different project tools related to agile, i.e. Jira for example.»

I’m glad you brought that up!

The reason we don’t talk about specific tools when we promote agility for organizations is this: research has shown that it isn’t the tools that create agility, it’s a change in the mindset of the teams. Just search on «agile mindset» and you’ll find a number of new books based on this very premise, but back in 2018 our own research study, The Adaptive Organization, polled companies on what tools they were using, and which of them they felt made the biggest difference. The answer: None of them.


We were surprised, too, when we found that no particular agile/adaptive method or tool was a differentiator. Organizations that reported a high degree of success with agile/adaptive projects were all over the map in whether they used Lean, Scrum, Kanban or some other method. Low performers were actually more likely to standardize on Lean and Scrum, while high performers used Kanban and SAFe slightly more than the others. But none of these differences are remarkable.

So what makes the difference in agile transformation, both culturally as as measured by success in bringing projects and programs home using adaptive or agile methods? Training

In the Adaptive Organization study and again in our latest research, The State of Project Management 2020, high performing organizations train far more than average or low performers. In fact in the latest study, they trained on agile topics four times as much as low performers.

This isn’t the first study in which we found that an over-focus on tools was actually detrimental to organizational success: our study on PPM in 2014 came to the same conclusion. It’s important to remember that the Agile Manifesto was never about tools: it was a revolutionary statement about the way teams could think about processes, plans, and success.

To learn more about the ways in which The Adaptive Organization focuses on «mindset over method,» check out our recorded webinar on the topic.

And stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of this series, where I will tackle questions about PMO maturity and the role of the PMO in SAFe organizations.

Fuente: PMideas (Agile Tools, Agile Mindset: What’s More Important?).