Published on 07/02/2019

Why many big agile transformations fail

A long, long time ago, smartasses in IT came together in UTAH and gave birth to Agile, the manifesto and its principles.

Ever since, the world is changing and companies want to embrace the Agile way of working. The effect of implementing an Agile framework, like e.g. Scrum, is that it puts your organisation upside down. It breaks down the silos while creating cross functional teams. It changes the culture and often, that’s the moment when C-level takes back the command and restart controlling because it seems like everything is so unstructured. I’ve once read an article in which the CEO of a company states:”With all ceremonies and the amount of ongoing meetings, Scrum seems very inefficient. But we deliver very good quality and the customer is very happy with our products, so it must be very effective.” In case you only see what this CEO called the inefficient part, you can expect measures top-down inside the organisation and this often results in suppressing all early agility. 


More than ever, today’s companies need agility in order to answer to the everlasting and always changing customer needs and that’s why so many companies order an Agile transformation. I rephrase; companies order in an Agile Transformation like you would order in a pizza. But it’s not as easy as ordering in a pizza. An Agile transformation is a journey, and along the way you have many mountains to climb, big rivers to cross and many dangerous dragons to slay... . In case you're wondering, the process of an Agile transformation is messy, ugly, difficult and long, it just doesn't happen overnight. However, it will benefit you if you endure. Keep focused on what lies ahead, don't get distracted and every once in a while celebrate successes along the way. What better way is there to celebrate with a pizza? 

Allright, this might all have been said before. But we don't seem to understand the consequences of bad transformations. I've wrote it before that the transformation will turn your organisation upside down, that it will affect the company's culture. While being in a liminal state (in between what was and what will be), it has an enormous effect on the people. Time to grab the change management during the transformation by the horns. Implementing a framework like Scrum isn't just about new processes and new roles, it's also about the people and the change ... yes it's about installing culture.