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The Agile Gauge


In my last blog, we talked about turning on the Agile Switch. In this blog, I will highlight what type of mindset is needed in order to keep the agile gauge at a hundred percent or at least an effort to take it to a hundred percent. Many of you may question what is this “mindset” suppose to be? How do we know what is the correct form or way of agile thinking? There is no concrete answer, however, there are ways to take small steps to bring that mindset in biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

The Mindset

People in the agile and scrum community keep making the statement that the entire organization has to be thinking, acting, and taking agile seriously. In the biotech space, it’s the mindset, which doesn’t exactly travel across the ENTIRE organization. Perhaps its just the way executives are used to? Maybe its legacy or something they are not used to? Or sometimes they simply don’t care?  This is tough and I know that it impacts the collaboration, the team, and agility throughout the entire organization. Having the mindset is all about working efficiently, accepting change, creating a positive environment, and, most important of all, EMPOWERING TRUST, not just for one team, but for the entire organization. The gauge currently in most Biotech organizations and Pharma companies is usually set to 50 percent. Many ask why 50 percent? Well, that’s easy to answer. Most of the time, companies are only 50 percent bought into the agile concept. Many organizations still like to keep the command in control type mindset and practice old traditional methods which leads to scarring team dynamics, yet they still want to practice agile. The more I observe, the more I notice that its hard for executives to adapt to the change, and that is why it is important that they are bought into this transformation or thinking from the very beginning. What makes it difficult for organizations to adapt to the mindset? There are many potential reasons, and most of the time its due to the regulations and impediments that I highlighted in my last post.

Taking Small Steps to fill the Agility Gauge:

Think of it like this, when you are filling your tire with air, you use a pressure gauge to make sure each tire matches the recommended PSI. I see it the same way here, each team in your department most likely will not be able to fill the agile gauge all the way to a 100 percent, especially if you are in the transformation stage. Each department may have its own learning curve, impediments, and restrictions. The ideal goal is that if I take this gauge and walk through each department, I am at a hundred percent. Most of the time in Biotech and Pharma, it’s just the software development related teams that are using Agile and making the effort to increase agility. However, this team is driven by other members across all departments, making it important that those members are part of the agile method you are using to deliver the final product. Otherwise, when you don’t involve others, then everyone starts creating their own gauge based on their own process. The goal here is to collaborate more often and have one solid process for the team to focus. Having multiple processes and methods just makes it more difficult for your team to perform well.

If you are part of an organization where Agile is not carried throughout the entire organization, try starting pilots with other teams and set up the cross-functional execution. It’s easier said than done, but again, it is about spreading the positivity and driving the culture to adopt the agile mindset. As a Scrum Master, my view is always the team and that is why I keep talking about empowering trust within your team. If your team can do it, so can other teams, and yes, that also includes senior executives. You will hit a wall if the mindset is not fully adopted, but don’t stop and give up, keep pushing the thinking. Go out and make a difference, speak up and try to set the gears and start filling the gauge; sooner or later, you will see the results.


This blog was to set the stage in terms of what mindset really means. In the context of the previous blog about flipping the switch, it is important to use this gauge to see if you are ready to flip, this can help your team and organization assess where you stand and help you take the small steps needed to bring the gauge as close to 100 percent. Even if you are not ready, just keep experimenting to fine-tune your efforts with the gauge. Trial and error are how we drive experiments in Science. In order to adopt the agile mindset, the organization, team, and individual members have to be able to experiment with cultures, environments, and different types of personas. In the next few blogs, I will get into some of the details, highlight key scenarios and techniques, and introduce questions to ask about the gauge. Please feel free to share your concerns/questions regarding your organization. I would love to connect. My vision is #bringingagilitytoscience, and with that, I encourage you all to go out and Empower Trust, Engage, and Deliver.

#May the 4th be with you! 


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