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

By: Cottrell | Oct 29, 2019 |  Agile Transformation,  Article,  Leadership

In the previous articles of this series, I covered the first and second antidotes to Zombie Agility, the regular and generous application of compelling Business Outcomes and ensuring your change agents aren’t already infected.

Today, we’ll explore the third and final antidote: building strong teams with the capabilities to achieve the organization’s desired business outcomes–and fend off a zombie attack.

Antidote #3: Build healthy teams with strong capabilities to easily repel future Zombie Agility attacks

Zombie Agility is lazy. It avoids hard work. That’s how you can repel it. 

Building teams’ durable capabilities is itself an antidote. Creating team and organization capabilities like measuring results, aligning cross-functionally to deliver value, being action enabled, and building predictable delivery cadences is work. Zombie Agility will get a whiff of teams working hard to develop those capabilities and will move to the next victim.

Let’s say the vision is clear about desired business outcomes. 

Change agents actively reinforce the end goal. This means team attention and energy turns to building their capabilities to make it all happen. Those emerging capabilities become part of the fabric of a sound team and, with continued effort, become extremely durable. 

Teams with sound capabilities can stand up to Zombie Agility threats. Those capabilities help to swiftly address changing business priorities based on new lessons about client needs. Those capabilities help to address obstacles (real and perceived) that naturally show up, like tech debt, production issues, or whatever else is thrown at the team. 

Teams that experience the thrill of growing their capabilities, skills, and results because agility gives them new insights, approaches, and learning? Great. But when the goal is only to “go Agile,” it’s just a matter of time before Zombie Agility is more common than not. 


In conclusion, Zombie Agility is eradicated with crucial sequencing. It goes like this: Desirable business outcomes set the vision. The outcomes are delivered by strong teams with healthy capabilities. All the Agile things (empirically tested practices, meetings, progress reports, etc) are the means to those ends. 

Agility turns into Zombie Agility when the order of events is turned around, no matter why. I don’t really believe zombies are real (much). But I do see Zombie Agility when Agile becomes the end goal, and not simply a means to the end. It doesn’t take much to get it wrong, I’m afraid. 

I hope these antidotes are helpful because delivering better outcomes for customers and creating a better environment for employees is important. Let’s do that. 

Final disclaimer: Anything good above comes from lessons learned using our Path to Agility® Transformation Framework, and by working with our founder and thought leader, David Hawks, who offered me the antidotes like the ones above. 



If you haven’t yet, you can read the previous two articles in this series here:

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