Three reasons Agile transformations fail

There’s a problem in the Agile transformation business. Over the last three years, we’ve observed a consistent pattern: companies get stuck with “superficial” agility and rarely get predictable agility or operate with fast agility. This means they rarely gain the benefits of agility they need. That led us to ask, “Why do Agile transformations fail?”

Implementing practices over outcomes

The number one reason we see transformations fail is that enterprises are focused on the wrong thing, implementing “all the things” to be agile.

The goal of an Agile transformation isn’t to be “agile” or to implement Agile. The goal should be focused on outcomes and business results: happier customers, delivering faster, more responsiveness, more predictability.

Lack of business engagement

We see many companies that go through an Agile transformation forget to invite the customer along, therefore it’s a local optimization and not an optimization of the whole.

If we are not involving the customer we’re not helping them learn a different way of working. Often business partners are not brought along and so they don’t know how to contribute to the transformation.

Focusing only on team level

For most organizations who hire us, this is not their first Agile transformation. Most often, their first Agile transformation consisted of only implementing Agile practices at the team level and didn’t permeate through the entire organization. A transformation has to involve the whole company, at the leadership levels and System level to motivate dynamic behavioral shifts.

Six keys to Agile transformation success

Looking back on our decades of experience, we studied our Agile transformations where companies gained the agility and business outcomes they needed.
So we asked, “What keys unlock Agile transformation success?”

Tying to business outcomes

The goal isn’t to be agile, it is something credible and compelling from a business perspective.

Manage the change journey

Agile is not a process change, it is an organizational change that requires organizational change management tactics that make sense to the whole company.

Leaders lead the change

Start at the leadership level and help them lead and support the teams through change.

Not just technology

Customers can’t see all of your departments or understand how you’re organized. Today delivering value extends beyond a technology department and having organization-wide business agility is an advantage.

Product/value driven mindset (vs. project driven)

Historically, everything has been budget and project focused but what’s needed now is a value-driven mindset (often called product-driven).

Build internal coaching capability

Our job is to work ourselves out of one. Who are going to be the people that will continue leading this change mission when Agile Velocity departs?

The path to Agile transformation success

By understanding the reasons for failures and the keys to success we were able to create the Path to Agility®, a leading transformation approach used by coaches and organizations across the globe.

The Path to Agility gives companies guidance that’s geared towards their business outcomes. Starting with outcomes, the transformation engages leaders and business partners who focus on results over practices or processes.

It’s a capability-based approach identifying crucial new and enhanced capabilities encompassing agility mindset, versatile skill development, and new ways of working organization-wide.

Path to Agility makes it easy to definitively answer your two most vexing transformation questions:

  • Where are we?
  • Where are we going?

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