Core Values and Agility Move Southwest Airlines Through the Good & Challenging Times

By Agile Velocity | Aug 24, 2020 |  Agile Transformation,  Business Agility,  Leadership,  Video

There have been many times in Southwest Airlines history where times were great. However, there are other times Southwest refers to as “existential moments” where the outcomes were not obvious and the company was forever changed because of it. These are the defining moments in a company’s history and have ultimately helped shape the industry of air travel. From 9/11, selling tickets online in 1995, fuel hedging in the early 1990s, to the very beginning with Herb going to the Texas Supreme Court to begin flying, and creating the Ten Minute Turn in the early 1970s, Southwest has met and overcome various challenges with innovative techniques coming from passionate Employees and fearless Leadership.

Historically at Southwest, the tough times focus around the core values of the organization: Warrior Spirit, Servant Leadership, and a Fun-Luving Attitude. Focused initiatives and dedicated Teams are created to deliver on key projects… Agile-like. Strategies and decisions are focused on revenue in the most fundamental ways. Innovation comes within empowered core Teams. As we move through undoubtedly one of the most unprecedented crisis, how can the practices we learned from the Agile Teams strengthen Southwest’s ability to adapt once again?

Watch this video to explore how Southwest Airlines’ core values and agility enabled their teams to come together during times of crisis and work towards the same goal. 

Fireside style chat hosted by Business Agility 2020 Emerging from Crisis.

About Emily Beatty | Strategist @ Southwest Airlines
Emily Beatty has been in the airline industry with Southwest for nearly 10 years. During that time, she’s focused her career around the Customer in both the commercial and operational areas of the business. Throughout that journey, there have been many changes in the industry as well as internal to Southwest that she has witnessed and played a role in. Being a part of those critical functions, she’s seen the industry evolve and adapt in ways that are seemingly unpredictable. Some changes come from external pressures or internal goals, yet both result in the need for innovative thinking and fast-moving delivery.

In her current role, she is the strategist of a pilot improving the digital space using agile methods within the booking flow. Her expertise has led her to this opportunity where the Customer is the focus, and she’s able to pull together strategic plans and backlogs around those Customer insights. Prior to this, Emily led an internal Team and managed key relationships with external partners where it was critical to understand both how the product functions from an operational perspective and profitability perspective. 

The yearlong pilot recently proved itself as a highly successful program. She now sits on an Agile Leadership Transformation Team to help extend agile within the Marketing Department, to strengthen the relationship between the business and technology. The ultimate goal of the Team is to determine how best to implement Agile in certain focus areas of the business to create a sustainable platform for growth. 

Emily brings a unique perspective on what it means to adapt Agile to meet the demands of the business, while listening to your Customers for every step in the journey and determining the next best thing. Her proven track record of developing successful Customer initiatives using strategic visions, Customer data, and high functioning Teams is well established at Southwest. It’s no doubt that 2020 has created unprecedented challenges, and the ability to move quickly and make decisions remains paramount.

About David Hawks | Founder and Chief Agilist @ Agile Velocity
Founder and Chief Agilist of Agile Velocity, David Hawks is a Certified Enterprise Coach and Certified Scrum Trainer who is passionate about helping organizations achieve true agility beyond the basic implementation of Agile practices. 

David’s primary focus is to guide leaders through their Agile transformation by helping to create successful transformation strategies and effectively manage organizational change with a focus on achieving real business results.

Download the Southwest Airlines Agile transformation story, Beyond the Boarding Gate: How Southwest Airlines Uses Agile To Get Better, Faster, and More Efficient, to learn more about their Agile transformation and why it was different and more successful than previous attempts.

We’re proud of our growing network of people dedicated to delivering better business outcomes through the Path to Agility framework.

We created a set of badges for our Practitioners and Facilitators to use as a symbol of their dedication to helping organizations through their journey to agility. 

Path to Agility certification badgePath to Agility certification badge

When someone is certified in the Path to Agility, they are immersed in a practical and useful approach. Certified Practitioners and Facilitators help organizations know where they are and what they need to do on their journey of continual improvement. Using Path to Agility as a guide, organizations are able to identify the business results they are after and prioritize the Agile capabilities needed to achieve them.

If you’d like to learn more about the Path to Agility, you can attend an upcoming free, 1-hour webinar. Dates and registration information here, visit, or email resalin.gurka@agilevelocity.


3 Lessons Learned Guiding SAFe® Implementations Recorded Webinar

By Agile Velocity | Feb 11, 2020 |  Agile Transformation,  Webinar

Planning and executing an Agile scaling strategy is difficult. During my time as an Agile Coach, I’ve guided enterprises through successful Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) implementation–but it wasn’t all daffodils and roses.

In this webinar recording, Mike Hall shares some of the hard lessons he’s learned in guiding organizations through planning and executing a SAFe implementation. Mike includes real-world examples of when and how teams and organizations struggled and how we worked together to reach successful outcomes.    

Key Takeaways: 

  • 3 lessons learned in implementing SAFe and what you can do to avoid common mistakes
  • Tips for dealing with organizational chaos during a SAFe implementation
  • Answers to your own questions about SAFe and the challenges you’re facing

View the full slide deck here:


“Leadership Is Language” Interview With David Marquet

By Agile Velocity | Feb 05, 2020 |  Article,  Leadership


In this Agile Uprising podcast, co-hosts Andy Cleff and Erik Cottrell sit down with David Marquet to discuss his latest book, “Leadership is Language”. It’s no secret we are huge fans of David Marquet’s work, including his book, “Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders” so when we were presented with the opportunity to chat with him, it was a dream come true.

David, Erik, and Andy discuss six plays to change the way leaders show up, the impact that language has on our organizational culture, and ultimately on business outcomes:

  • Control the clock, don’t obey the clock
  • Collaborate, don’t coerce
  • Commit, don’t comply
  • Complete, don’t continue
  • Improve, don’t prove
  • Connect, don’t conform

Order “Leadership Is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say–and What You Don’t” to learn more about the six plays mentioned above.

You can read more on the topic of modern leadership in Erik Cottrell’s article, 3 Principles Agile Leaders Should Live By During An Organizational Transformation


Agile Velocity Joins the Scaled Agile® Partner Network

By Agile Velocity | Jan 29, 2020 |  Agile Transformation,  Article

SAFe- partner-badge-silver (1)We are excited to join Scaled Agile’s Partner program. This worldwide network includes transformation and platform providers who help enterprises facilitate and accelerate business results through the adoption of the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®). As the world’s leading framework for enterprise agility, SAFe helps businesses address the significant challenges of developing and delivering high-quality software and systems in the shortest sustainable lead-time.

Mobilizing large-scale transformations can be daunting. Agile Velocity’s aim is to ensure companies always embark on their SAFe journey with a powerful, simple, and coherent transformation approach anchored to their unique business outcomes. Leveraging Agile Velocity’s Path to Agility® alongside SAFe equips employees at every level to swiftly and accurately diagnose and resolve root causes that derail or stall transformation momentum. Path to Agility produces quicker business results and lasting, durable agile capabilities.

Our clients are clear. They need meaningful business results, and they don’t want to get stuck in the chaos and resistance phase of a transformation,”  Erik Cottrell, CEO Agile Velocity.  “Agile Velocity’s Path to Agility is designed to accelerate SAFe adoptions with confidence because Path to Agility makes sense of transformations in a simple yet powerful way that’s biased towards results. Having guided dozens of our clients along their path to agility, we’re very proud to be a part of the Scaled Agile network and help more companies deliver lasting change.”

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.Jeanette Ward, COO, Texas Mutual Insurance Company

Working with best-in-class partners like Agile Velocity represents our commitment to helping software and systems-dependent enterprises improve time-to-market, quality, and employee engagement,” said Dean Leffingwell, creator of SAFe and cofounder of Scaled Agile, Inc. “By incorporating SAFe into their solution offering, Agile Velocity is enabling the world’s largest organizations to become more agile in the marketplace and more competitive in their industry.”

About Agile Velocity

Agile Velocity serves Fortune 500 companies nationwide. It has grown into an organization filled with people who are passionate about helping companies react quickly to market demands and compete on a global scale through iteration, collaboration, and a shared understanding of both vision and practical execution.  

Change can feel unmanageable–it’s complex and risky in business. That’s when companies bring in AV. We are a trusted, full-service transformation partner, equipping organizations with tools and systems that help achieve tangible business outcomes. We utilize our proven transformation approach, Path to Agility, to teach leaders how to guide their organizations through initial chaos and onto accelerated success.

About Scaled Agile, Inc.

Scaled Agile, Inc. is the provider of SAFe, the world’s leading framework for enterprise agility. Through learning and certification, a global partner network, and a growing community of over 450,000 trained professionals, Scaled Agile helps enterprises build better systems, increase employee engagement, and improve business outcomes. Scaled Agile is a contributing member of the Pledge 1% corporate philanthropy and community service movement. For more information on Scaled Agile and SAFe, visit


To learn more about how Agile Velocity can help you scale Agile across your organization, visit our SAFe Transformation page.


Which Agile Scaling Framework is Right For You? SAFe® vs. LeSS

By Agile Velocity | |  Agile Transformation,  Article

Agile transformations can do wonders for organizations across the board. Agile helps teams to continuously improve while focusing on attainable goals and timely delivery. However, implementing Agile across a large organization comes with its own challenges. Businesses that want to scale Agile across multiple departments have a range of Agile frameworks to consider to help them combat these challenges, and some might work better for their organizations than others.

We’ve highlighted two of the most popular Agile scaling frameworks (SAFe vs LeSS) to help leaders determine which framework best meets their needs.

SAFe vs LeSS: Which is right for you?

SAFe®: Scaled Agile Framework®

SAFe® is the most popular framework for enterprise-wide scaled Agile implementation. Its popularity stems from its roots in proven Lean Systems Thinking and core Agile development principles.

SAFe® works best in organizations with anywhere from five to several hundred teams. Therefore, it’s a great framework for large companies. SAFe® provides these businesses with a highly dependable method for planning, execution, and delivery through Agile Release Trains (ART’s). 

ARTs bring all teams together on a regular cadence of Program Increments lasting eight to 12 weeks. Each Program Increment begins with a multi-team planning session to identify what they’ll deliver, which helps teams identify and address cross-team dependencies and potential obstacles.

Pros of SAFe®

  • Touches upon business aspects other Agile frameworks fail to address
  • Based on Lean Economics – teams deliver the greatest value in the shortest amount of time 
  • Synchronization across multiple teams reduces scaling issues
  • Support via excellent training courses and role-based certifications
  • SAFe® decomposes business strategies into initiatives, then features, then stories of work at the team level–no other scaling framework maps this pathway out as clearly.

Cons of SAFe®

  • The implementation strategy may need to be tweaked to fit the needs of your organization
  • Alignment with economic-driven Lean development may prove challenging from a cultural perspective

SAFe® is a comprehensive and complete solution that addresses not only team agility but also portfolio and business agility. Therefore, SAFe® is an excellent choice for companies that desire full enterprise agility with a highly disciplined approach to deliverables. 

LeSS: Large Scale Scrum

LeSS is the large-scale implementation of key principles and elements of Scrum across multiple teams. A key aspect of LeSS involves redirecting team attention onto the whole organization rather than each team’s individual silo. However, implementing this holistic approach also can be a primary barrier to scaling.

There are two frameworks within LeSS:

  1. LeSS: Up to eight teams
  2. LeSS Huge: Scaled for more than eight teams

While both frameworks rely upon a single Product Owner, LeSS Huge includes additional Area Product Owners that work among their smaller areas. For leaders who are fans of Lean Economics, LeSS can be advantageous due to its emphasis on systems thinking, doing more with less, and queuing theory.

Pros of LeSS:

  • Comfortable and familiar due to its Scrum roots
  • Emphasizes system-wide thinking
  • Focused on a product rather than project
  • Single Product Owner and backlog

Cons of LeSS:

  • Scaling only works for companies with a solid Scrum foundation
  • Since it’s built around Scrum, it’s not a natural extension of other methodologies
  • The single Product Owner may struggle to handle multiple teams

LeSS works best with companies that are successful with Scrum and want to scale it across multiple departments since they will find the concepts of LeSS quite familiar. 

Choosing the Right Agile framework – or Tweaking Them to Fit Your Needs

There are many different Agile frameworks to consider for businesses that have multiple teams working on the same product. But oftentimes, the best solution is one that blends best practices from multiple scaling frameworks. The truth is, organizational leaders have to approach Agile as a method they tailor to fit their needs, rather than a stagnant solution. Hopefully, this SAFe vs LeSS comparison makes your decision-making process a little easier. 

To learn more about how Agile Velocity can help you scale Agile across your organization, visit our Transformation Services page or our SAFe Transformation page.


Holiday Food Drive with Caritas of Austin

By Agile Velocity | Nov 20, 2019 |  Article

Help fight hunger by participating in our Holiday Food Drive! This year, we’re celebrating the holidays by giving back to our community in partnership with Caritas of Austin.

All contributions will be donated to Caritas of Austin, a local nonprofit working toward preventing and ending homelessness in Greater Austin. 

Please take a look at the Caritas of Austin Pantry Wish List if you would like to contribute.

To participate, bring a canned good or hygiene product to the Agile Velocity office before December 16th, 2019. If you are attending an AV training class, you are welcome to bring your donation to class for drop off! 

Holiday Food Drive Drop Off Address:

Agile Velocity Office

8140 N Mopac Expressway

Bldg 4, Ste 140

Austin, Tx 78759

Happy holidays and thank you for taking action in the fight against hunger.


Live Stream Recording “The Biggest Missed Opportunity: Focusing On Agile Things Instead Of Business Outcomes”

By Agile Velocity | Oct 18, 2019 |  Agile Transformation,  Webinar

Did you know Amazon doesn’t even use standard Agile practices and vocabulary? Yet, they are arguably the most agile and successful organizations in the world. 

It’s not about doing Agile. It’s about gaining capabilities that drive results from Agile like happy customers, market responsiveness, engaged employees, etc. 

On November 7th, we hosted an event all about achieving these results from Agile. If you didn’t make the event, we recorded David’s talk so you wouldn’t miss a thing.

Key Takeaways:

– In a survey performed in David’s conference presentations on organizations’ current state of agility, over 50% reported that they were still improving their agility while 29% reported they still only had “Superficial Agility” in their organizations. Why does this happen? David explains. 

– There are 9 different Business Outcomes we’ve identified as important goals for a transformation: 

  1. Speed
  2. Predictability
  3. Market Responsiveness
  4. Customer Satisfaction
  5. Innovation
  6. Employee Engagement
  7. Quality 
  8. Productivity
  9. Continuous Improvement

– Once you determine what Business Outcomes your organization is after, then you can determine which Agile Outcomes and Practices you need to achieve those outcomes. For example, there are a total of 8 Agile Outcomes that go into improving an organization’s Speed, including the Ability to Focus and Decision Agility. 


We hope you found this live stream beneficial. If you have questions or if you’d like to learn more about how we successfully guide organizations as they work to become more agile through coaching, training, or a simple tune-up, you can reach out here.


HR Agility: An Example From Silicon Labs

By Agile Velocity | Jul 22, 2019 |  Scrum,  Video

Is HR Agile a thing? 

That’s what Samantha Wiseman (Sr. HR Business Partner) wanted to find out when she took our Scrum Master cert class this January. After spending two days learning about empirical process, Agile, and the Scrum framework, she began to see how it can be applied to her role as a Sr. HR Business Partner in a few pilot projects.

Listen to Juliet Hooten and Samantha Wiseman discuss how they use Agile in HR at Silicon Labs. Lessons learned include: 

  • Don’t get too focused on terminology 
  • Shift your mindset away from perfect
  • Get comfortable with failing fast 
  • Build in time for reflection 

This video is a good introduction for other HR professionals who are seeking to understand the benefits of agility.

Learn more about implementing Agile in HR 


Webinar: Why Agile Transformations Fail: How to Achieve Agile Results

By Agile Velocity | Jun 05, 2019 |  Agile Transformation,  Leadership,  Webinar

Presenter: David Hawks, CEC, CST

We operate in a world of exponentially increasing market disruption. It is more important than ever for organizations to achieve organizational agility, which is why many companies are embarking on Agile Transformations. However, few of them are realizing the full agile results promised–and needed.

In fact, over 50% of all Agile transformations fail.

In this webinar, David explored how leaders can guide their organizations past common barriers to transformation and accelerate momentum towards true organizational agility using a proven transformation framework, the Path to Agility®.

Key takeaways include:

  • 4 impediments slowing down the transformation or preventing significant gains from Agile
  • How an organization develops new capabilities by implementing Agile practices
  • How those capabilities result in agile outcomes and better agility for an organization
  • The ability to assess your current state of agility and where to focus efforts in the near term

Don’t let your organization miss out on the Agile results it needs. Combat common impediments to your agility.

Download the Full Webinar Recording Here