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  • Toby Sinclair

What's wrong with the Agile Mindset? | Naïve Realism in Agile Transformations

Updated: Sep 14, 2020


Have you noticed anyone driving slower than you is an idiot? And anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

This is known as the false consensus effect which is the assumption that most people in a situation would behave in the same way as you would.

I was made aware of this bias on the “You are not so smart” podcast where Lee Ross shares details on this and naive realism.

“They don’t have the agile mindset

Working in agile transformations this is a common phrase uttered by many, including myself. The podcast from Lee Ross led me to some serious introspection.

When confronted with people who disagree, I can often fall into the trap of assuming there must be a rational explanation. When I’m working with someone who hasn’t yet adopted an "agile mindset" I think it’s a gap in their mindset that needs to be addressed through coaching, training and other interventions.

What I don’t often think is that I have the wrong mindset.

Naïve realism is the conviction that we see the world in an objective and mediated way. Because of this belief, we think others will share our view. And we think the problem is how to make others see the world the same as us.

I often call upon my experience with agile teams and organisations as a way to influence others. To convince them of the agile way of being. To the Agile Mindset. I often see myself as being "enlightened" and helping others also have the same enlightenment. This prevents real transformational change from happening. It prevents open dialogue and prevents my mental model to be challenged.

Questions for you to reflect upon:

  1. How do you stay with the not knowing?

  2. How do you remain open to the possibility that it is my mindset that is wrong?

  3. How do you show unconditional positive regard no matter the position of the other person?


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