Thinking Differently About Agile Transformation:
The “LeadingAgile Way”

WRITTEN BY Jeanette Maxwell

Since coming onboard with LeadingAgile, I am continuously learning more about Agile Transformation and the market for our services.  Each day, I learn something new about why companies choose to work with us versus other consulting companies.  LeadingAgile is different and here is why…

The way businesses operate and survive in today’s market is constantly changing. Companies turn to Agile as a silver bullet, but it’s not. Tons of companies are trying and failing with Agile every day. They fail because they don’t see what it really takes to be successful. They have to start thinking differently about what it takes to adopt Agile in a systematic, meaningful, and lasting way.

To lead a successful Agile transformation, you have to address culture and practices, but it’s the underlying systems that support the Agile culture and practices that makes them meaningful.  All three are important, but where you begin the transformation is really the key! This is my main takeaway from my time so far and what makes our approach so fundamentally different.

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Check out the Infographic

Culture

Many executives believe if you cultivate an Agile culture, transformation will ooze through the company, and productivity will soar.  They believe if you focus on changing hearts and minds, the delivery systems will fall right into place.

If you have a complex organization, very rarely will a culture-driven transformation result in a true systematic change that sticks.

Practices

Even if key players throughout your organization attend Agile classes to adopt practices, there is still a huge missing piece to the puzzle.  Executives that start by changing practices expect the ripple effect to transform the company. Culture and systems are supposed to emerge by changing the way they work, but neither usually happens.  People go through the motions, but because the systems and the culture don’t support the practices, nothing really changes.

If these popular “start with practices” strategies work so well, why does Agile fail in so many companies that use them?

For your company to succeed, it’s time to think differently:  Systems are the key 

For permanent organizational change, adopting Agile is always about Systems first: forming teams, building backlogs, and regularly producing increments of working, tested software. Once you’ve rationalized the “system” and introduced solid Agile practices, a healthy, adaptive, and empowered culture will emerge over time.

At LeadingAgile, we believe you have to look at transformation through a different lens in order to make change really stick.  Culture, Practices, and Structures are all important, but where you choose to begin is essential. Here at LeadingAgile we believe organizations must start with systems, then teach practices, and guide culture over time for meaningful change to happen and for you to reach your business goals.

For more information about LeadingAgile transformation services, go to www.leadingagile.com.

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2 comments on “Thinking Differently About Agile Transformation:
The “LeadingAgile Way””

  1. Jeff Anderson

    Jeanette,

    I could not agree more, putting a good system in place makes agile practices effective while creating the space for culture to manifest.

    I believe successful agile change often starts with putting the design tools and management skills in place to nurture and grow just such a system.

    I have been working with a number of client leaders to do just that, happy to share the approach here. http://agilebydesign.com/change-the-way-we-think-about-organizing-our-people-to-deliver-value/

    Reply
  2. Girolamo Marino

    I am in process of learning about Agile and I found your article pretty helpful. I agree with you when you say that, the more complex the organization is, the harder it will be to change its culture. Implementing Agile should start from senior management, and that might not happen. I also agree with you that starting with Agile systems is the best approach. However, I was thinking that it might be problematic. People might be confused about team dynamics, backlogs, retrospectives, and incremental and iterative product submissions. If people have trouble with learning the new processes, the company might lose time and money. I am still learning about Agile, so I do not really know much about real world implementations. I enjoyed reading your article, thanks.

    Reply