The Process of Agile Transformation

Updated: Jan 18

Teams Becoming Agile

Many initiatives to move a company to an agile framework fail miserably. Why? Too many managers don’t realize that transformation is a process, not an event. A transformation requires a step-by-step approach that follows the principle of continuous improvement. A truly agile company emerges from small, steady changes that happen and continue to happen over time. If management believes a transformation can happen overnight, they may apply pressure to teams to accelerate a process that really can’t be accelerated. Shortcuts don’t work.

What does work? While there are many aspects to an agile transformation, organizations can get on the right foot by beginning with three important steps: (1) Understand the problem you are trying to solve, (2) establish a clear agile vision, and (3) identify distinct agile roles.

Understand the Problem

Before you jump in and get every team to start holding daily stand-ups, it is important to stop and understand why you wanted to implement agile in the first place. If you don’t know what problem you are trying to solve and why you are trying to solve it, you won’t get anywhere.

Agile is never a hard sell – who doesn’t want to get to market faster, with lower costs, and more reliability? Everyone wants these things, but agile is not a one-size-fits-all tool. There are many flavors of agile, and to be successful, you need a good understanding of how agile applies to your circumstances. A key agile principle is to establish effectiveness by being situationally specific. So, before you start anything, ask yourself questions like, “What is the nature of the problem I am trying to solve?” “What are the types of products my organization is working on?” “Is this a new development project?” “What degree of uncertainty do we have in our development efforts?” The answer to these questions will influence what type of agile solution you need. The answer may even suggest that agile is not the answer! This may sound like blasphemy, but there are times when more traditional frameworks are more appropriate to the nature of the work you are trying to perform. When you understand the nature of the problem you are trying to solve, you can more successfully identify the right solution.