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?"
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.
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.
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.
We also see a trap where many organizations think, “If we train everybody, then we will be good.” Learning starts with training but ends outside the classroom. You learn the terminology and rules during training but have to actually practice them to make it stick. That’s the hard part. Which is why you need an external or internal coach to guide you through that learning curve.
Optimizing the entire value stream means not just asking, “Are we doing our development in two-week sprints?” But rather focusing on how long our entire planning process is. What is our investment and budgeting process? How long does it take to get software (or other kinds of value) out to production? Are we optimizing all of those pieces? Because it’s not just about optimizing one segment of a multifaceted value flow, you have to consider the entire value stream.
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?"
The goal isn’t to be agile, it is something credible and compelling from a business perspective.
Start at the leadership level and help them lead and support the teams through change.
Historically, everything has been budget and project focused but what’s needed now is a value-driven mindset (often called product-driven).
Agile is not a process change, it is an organizational change that requires organizational change management tactics that make sense to the whole company.
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.
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?
By understanding the reasons for failures and the keys to success we were able to create the Path to Agility®, a leading transformation framework 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 framework 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:
Align all company players around a common why. Since every employee needs to invest in the Agile transformation, this stage gets past the resistance to change and unites the organization around common goals.
During this stage, the organization is actively learning processes, terms, and how to create a permanent Agile culture. Leaders are learning how to track and eliminate roadblocks in the organization. Teams are learning how to take ownership of their internal processes and identify where bottlenecks might arise.
During the Predict state, enterprises use their growing agility knowledge to recognize hurdles and overcome them. Organizations in this stage limit volatility within their processes.
Dial things up to accelerate the pace of business processes - from decision-making to communication to product or service transformation to delivery.
The organization responds in a nimble fashion to changing situations and easily adapts to market forces. Truly Agile companies can easily pivot to address external forces, including competition and economic pressures.
Guidance For Your Agile Transformation
Set the stage by aligning the organization on the reason for the transition: achieving measurable business outcomes.
An Outcome-Based Assessment
Taking an outcome-based approach, rather than practice-driven, focuses activity on results rather than just “doing” Agile.
The Ability To Measure Progress
Emphasize and enable shorter feedback loops and transparency to measure what matters.
Tangible Transformation Next Steps
Map the strategy and tactics that provide direction and an actionable path forward. With each stage of change, there are core capabilities that enable the continued progress toward achieving Business Outcomes.
“Before working with Agile Velocity we never finished a sprint. We are now completing sprints consistently and pulling in additional work.”
“We accelerated through our transition with Agile Velocity’s help. The Path to Agility was crucial to our journey because it focused on outcomes, strengthened our capabilities, and became an integral part of our improvement mindset.”
“[The best part about our transformation] once we got out of the bottom of the change curve, the energy fundamentally changed. There’s something about having things on the wall, having standups, and operating differently that they were able to take ownership in a way they never had the context to do well before. It was exciting and felt good to be around.”
“Our culture has changed significantly. We are a good place to work. We were voted one of the best places to work in Texas. But within IT, we were very siloed. Teams didn’t interact with each other, and we didn’t interact as much with our onsite business customers. But, now what you see is that buzz and energy. Everybody is really focused on collaboration and tackling things together.”
“I was impressed with Agile Velocity's ability to quickly come up to speed, gain trust from the Southwest Teams and begin to partner in driving our transformation. They used the Path to Agility framework which drove alignment on goals, necessary actions, and focus areas as well as helped us track and visualize maturity. Their coaching enabled our teams to pivot and re-prioritize work in a quick and organized manner."”
Whether you need organization-wide transformation coaching, a 2-day workshop or something in between, we have a solution for you.