Why your agile transformation is underperforming

As companies are increasingly being exposed to a more volatile world, the need has never been clearer than today that something has to change in the way we do business. A dynamic world asks for increased organizational responsiveness, so an agile transformation could be an appropriate way of dealing with this reality for a majority of incumbent players on the market. Interest in agile development is rising at a steady pace, and especially how it scales from smaller teams to larger enterprise behemoth. But just because it’s popular, doesn’t mean it’s properly implemented everywhere. For every company that is working agile and happily so, there’s a company with headaches about why their agile transformation is not as successful as it should have been. Somehow, successful agile innovators must be different than other companies.

The keyword? Culture.

It’s the secret ingredient in the agile recipe that can make all the difference in how you perceive its effects. Here 4 ways that describe how having the wrong company culture can lead your agile transformation into a trainwreck:

  • Bad practices: agile development all begins with understanding “why?”, followed by learning how to implement it. Many teams get stuck somewhere in between, and end up with a hybrid of their classic methodology and agile development, delivering the benefits of neither approach. This often results in lowered productivity.
  • Accountability: when agile transformation is in a rut, and the organization is still learning or growing, but not quite delivering the end results yet, the greatest opponents will quickly start playing the blame game, pushing blame for the loss in productivity to actors in the organisation instead of taking accountability and doing an introspective on how they themselves can make a positive change. This leads to poor innovation and growth within the company, just when continuous growth is of the essence.
  • Hostile internal culture can quickly demotivate contributors to the agile transformation. If you’re either a hero or a zero, where every mistake gets mercilessly punished, people will lack the lust for sticking their neck out and actively try making a change.
  • Management-driven agile transformation: agile has a strong grassroots aspect to it, with the teams being empowered to self-direct and self-improve. Strong management influence takes this empowerment away and leads to teams aimlessly following orders without actively contributing at the team member level. This divided culture leads to a lack of participation in the organization’s growth and makes sure the real problems to solve stay well-hidden under the radar.