Agile transformation - Go by the book or not

Having the experience working with various agile oriented organizations, I have observed a few behaviors that even though speak and support the agile way of working, still, it could end up against it. Especially in organizations that are new to agile, when you highlight and underline all the time that agile says this and that and the employees do not really understand, there is a high possibility that the effort will fail and you will manage to create negative feelings against the agile manifesto.

Agile transformations need vision and strategy. You need a strategy on how to approach the change and make sure you pass the right message that, what you are about to do, is not a single change, but a continuous change, a continuous improvement. You are about to coach employees on how to live from now on outside their traditional comfort zone and that they need to understand that things change, market changes, technology changes, customer needs change, therefore we need to drive these changes. We need to transform from a business-centric environment to customer centric environment. How do we achieve that?

We have two ways of transforming an organization. Either by adopting to the current situation and setting a long-term plan by bringing the big change with small steps or instantly do the change and start working agile. But the main question is not how you are going to do agile, but how are you going to be agile? Either way, we need to vertically assess the organization and start with what we currently know. We need to accept the current situation before any attempt to change it. We need to respect the past experience and the old way of working, and in respect of that to build the change.

First of all we need to work on the mindset and aim to extract all the culture ingredients from the employees and then connect them all together to build the organizational culture and identity. Usually, organizations acquire some fundamental agile knowledge and try to get off the shelve ways of working and try to follow them. It is very important to have in our minds that we are all unique, like everyone else. Every organization is unique, like every other organization. If you attempt to copy cultural elements from any other organization, simply you will start working like someone else and not with your own way.

If you really want to achieve good results and provide the customer value early, it is more effective to do whatever fits best to the organization, having as a baseline the agile manifesto!

Konstantinos Kareklas