“They don’t have the agile mindset” – Naïve Realism in Agile Transformations


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

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 lead 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 within agile teams and organisations as a way to influence and convince others of the agile way of being. 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 to reflect upon:

  • How do i stay with the not knowing?
  • How do i remain open to the possibility that it is my mindset that is wrong?
  • How do i show positive regard unconditionally no matter the position of the other person?








2 thoughts on ““They don’t have the agile mindset” – Naïve Realism in Agile Transformations

  1. Great article! I have sent it to my brother-in-law who is trying to drive change in his company (specifically, getting the manufacturing design engineers to use a similar PLM approach and system to the what the product design engineers use).

    I’m pretty sure that his mental model is about winning people over with logic and evidence and forceful argumentation, and I’m equally sure there are lots of other tools he could use to great effect if he had more of a coaching mindset… I’m hoping this article will pique his curiosity about those!

    So thank you for writing and sharing it!

    All the best,

    Lynn xx

    Sent from my iPhone



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