Zombie Agility & 3 Antidotes to Eradicate Infection In Your Organization – Part 2

By: Cottrell | Oct 28, 2019 |  Agile Transformation,  Article,  Leadership

In the previous article in this series, I covered the first antidote to the Zombie Agility contagion, the regular and generous application of compelling Business Outcomes

Today, I’ll jump into the second antidote: ensuring your internal Agile change agents aren’t carrying the virus themselves.

Antidote #2: Make sure your Agile change agents aren’t infected themselves

Zombie Agility is transmitted from human to human. Infections can be blatant or subtle. The problem is change agents may not know they are infected. More, you likely aren’t very practiced at knowing how to identify who might be infected and who is not. 

But you, the business outcomes leader, have decided to eradicate Zombie Agility by keeping Agile as the means to the real goal. Therefore, you cannot leave room for the zombie contagion to spread. Your goals and outcomes are too important. Besides, you’re working too hard to communicate compelling outcomes to your teams (See Antidote #1)

How can you certify your Agile change agents aren’t infected? No surprise, it’s going to take work on your part to make sure all is well. 

Proactive Approaches: 

  • Invest time with your change agents to ensure they really grasp the business outcomes that are in focus and how those credible and compelling results are critical to the company
  • Explicitly enlist their help to spread the word about these outcomes among all the teams. They should know they are expected to reinforce the outcomes story
  • Ask for their help to make sure everyone on your teams knows how they each contribute to the business outcomes focus

Reactive Approaches:

  • Be especially wary when you hear change agents say things which indicate Zombie Agility. The key here is identifying when “going Agile” becomes more important than the outcomes that agility helps deliver. Watch for comments like:
    • “We aren’t agile enough!”
    • “Leaders need to be more agile.”
    • “Jargon, jargon, jargon…” (Think “Brains…Brains…Brains” when you hear Agile jargon)
  • Be on the lookout for misplaced excitement about Agile compliance or adherence. What you want to hear is:
    • How teams are celebrating wins
    • What results they’re delivering
    • Lessons they are learning
    • How they are collaborating better internally and across the organization
    • Etc. 


It’s a real possibility that some of your Agile experts may need inoculation and that’s OK. Unlike real zombies (I cannot believe I’m taking this analogy this far), Zombie Agility is completely reversible. To reverse it, they need to understand why they mistook Agile as the goal, and how they can ensure they won’t regress. 

Spoiler: It’s well worth the effort. 


Don’t forget to check out the third and final installment of the Zombie Agility series, we’ll cover the last antidote: building healthy teams with strong capabilities


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