The optics of going Agile

During the time of increased pressure to adapt to ever-changing circumstances it becomes apparent that innovative digital solutions are challenging the value of traditional products and business models even more than before. Many organizations shift to an Agile way of working in order to improve their ability to learn from the feedback of existing and new customers quickly enough so that they can adapt and serve their customers’ needs better than other new or existing businesses could.

The basics of agile are quite straightforward to understand. However, as the experience of many organizations shows, it is much more difficult to understand and fully adopt the agile mindset, principles, values, and leadership behaviors to get the full benefit out of this investment.

I would love to hear from the readers of this post:
Who of you has seen their company or clients struggle on their agile journey and what were the top 3 obstacles that you noticed?

Here are a few of the examples that I have come across:

  • Engaging in the agile transformation primarily for the optics of it – either to impress investors, customers, potential recruits – rather than really engaging in a full-fledged agile journey with a sound understanding of agile and the appropriate commitment of time, depths and breadth of investing into changes necessary to achieve the targeted outcome and impact.
  • Treating the agile transformation like a traditional – i.e. a waterfall – project with fixed scope, fixed start and fixed end date, and traditional milestones.
  • Senior leaders asking their organization to “go agile” – without engaging directly themselves in the journey.
    Even worse: Requesting that only the engineering department should “do agile” without the business and other functions changing any of their behavior or even actually become agile.
  • Using – or should we say: abusing – agile merely as a buzzword to describe anything that is different from the traditional way of working, such as working hard and long hours responding to an urgent request from senior management on top of already existing work commitments.

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