The Difference Between Agile Mindset, Values, and Principles

The following is from a conversation in the Enterprise Agile Coaching community. I am sharing it here in the hope it might be useful for others. This is my reply to the question of what is the difference between mindset, values, and principles.


I define the mindset as 3 beliefs.

The complexity belief

Many of the challenges we face are complex adaptive problems, meaning that by trying to solve these problems we change the nature of the problem itself. An attribute of complex adaptive problems is that the end solution is not predictable at the outset.

The people belief

Individuals are both independent from and dependent on their teams and organisations. Human beings are interdependent.

Given the right environment (safety, respect, diversity and inclusion) and a motivating purpose, it is possible for trust and self-organisation to arise. For this to happen, it is necessary to treat everyone with unconditional positive regard.

The proactive belief

Proactivity in the relentless pursuit of improvement.

That to me is the mindset.

Of course, there are many definitions and you can fold other things into it, however, every single problem in organisational change that I have found, comes down to someone somewhere not having one of these beliefs



As defined in the NTL Handbook of organisation change:

Values are the roots of the beliefs that matter to us and the field’s practitioners, while ethics are the guidelines that govern how we practice our craft.

So these to me are things like:

Courage to speak up, psychological safety, respect, love for one another.

These are intangible roots of belief, or if you like, they are the foundations of things we value. The values of Scrum and XP combined are:

Scrum Values of: Courage; Focus; Commitment; Respect; Openness

XP Values of: Simplicity; Communication: Feedback: Respect; Courage.



If it is a call to action specific to the context, then it becomes a principle

So I would say both “deliver value continuously” and “make people awesome” are principles.

A value would be that people are awesome.

This is the world according to me, I don’t have a reference for this particular separation of meaning. It is what I teach, and importantly, seems to work in practice. I hope this helps anyone trying to explain the difference.

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