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  • Writer's pictureChuck Kroll

Six (6) Keys to Agile Transformation Success

Enterprises invest vast sums of money, time, and people into their Agile Transformation with limited or marginal success.  What’s missing?  What are the foundational and fundamental keys to succeeding in an Agile Transformation? In my experience:

  1. Business Outcomes are the Goal 

  2. Leaders Lead the Change 

  3. Value-driven Mindset 

  4. Manage the Change Journey 

  5. Involve the Whole Organization 

  6. Build Internal Coaching Capability 

 Let's dive in!


  1. Business Outcomes are the Goal 

Focus on Outcomes instead of Outputs.  The Outputs must synergize and support the targeted Outcomes. Typical Business Outcomes from a successful Agile Transformation are:

  • Time-to-Market Decrease: 30 – 75% 

  • Quality Increase: 25 – 75% 

  • Productivity Increase: 20 – 50 % 

  • Engagement Increase: 10 – 50 % 


2. Leaders Lead the Change 

Leaders must understand the evolution of Agility within their organization; this can range from the initial grass-roots Agility and team-level Agility where teams continue to operate in their Agile bubbles with little to no interaction with other Teams.  The next level is system-level Agility, where teams begin to work across teams by recognizing and streamlining their inter-team dependencies, mainly by identifying dependencies and aggressively and proactively managing those dependencies.  Finally, Leadership guides the Enterprise to maximize its Business Agility across the entire enterprise. 

The four key aspects of this area are to: 

  • Inspire the Enterprise with Purpose, 

  • Create and Maintain Focus, 

  • Empower the Team and the Team members, 

  • Enable Decision Agility. 

Remember, these team members are “Professional Craftsmen”.  They are the best informed and most aware of what goes on in the organization at the “Boots in the dirt” level.  Do not marginalize these professionals. 

3. Value-driven Mindset 

Value-driven product-center mindset is both a success factor for and a result of a successful Agile transformation. When organizations start shifting from a Project/Plan-driven mindset to a Product/Value-driven mindset, they start being Agile (as opposed to just doing Agile).


Following is a compare and contrast of Project/Plan-driven vs Product/Value-driven mindsets: 

Project/Plan Driven 

Product/Value Driven 





Manage the Execution 

Manage the Scope 

Manage to the Budget 

Manage the Investment 

Execute to the Plan  

Empirical (Results-based) Planning in Smaller Increment 

Hit the Date 

Maintain Agility (Murphy’s Law )

Temp Staffing

Persistent Teams

Component Teams

Feature Teams

Full Developer Utilization 

Work at a sustainable pace 

Work on Many Things at Once 

Stop starting and start delivering 


4. Manage the Change Journey 

Throughout our Agile Transformation Journey, we strive to align our organization at all levels, whether it be at the team level (Team 1, Team 2, Team 3, etc.), at the system level (System 1, System 2, etc.) all the way up to the entire Organization, or Enterprise level.  Do not allow these entities to be marginalized or overlooked.  Much can be learned both from and by these entities during the Agile Transformation.  As these learnings are collected and shared, then can be leveraged to lean out the organization both in process and in procedure.  Do not be afraid to change “the way we’ve always done it” mindset.  Do not allow your organization to fall or fail on that excuse.  Proactively and aggressively strive to learn, predict, accelerate, and adapt your organization to maximize the return on your Agile Transformation investment. 

5. Involve the Whole Organization 

Everyone is impacted and plays an important part in your Agile Transformation.  Entities to include and NOT overlook are: 

  • HR – Revising the annual Individual Performance Review to focus on team-based contributions and goals. 

  • Finance – Revising budget guidelines and processes. 

  • Executives – Mindset shifts away from Plan Driven to Value Driven Objectives. 

  • Business – Shifting away from Managing the Execution to Managing the Scope. 

  • Marketing – Product vision over project focus 


6. Build Internal Coaching Capability 

During your Agile Transformation Journey, you have several options for coaching and guidance:   

  1. You may choose the DIY or Do It Yourself method, which limits your progress to the speed at which your selected Agile Coach(es) can learn, develop, and communicate the desired approach.   

  2. You may elect to have a consulting firm provide specialized and focused Agile Coaching.   

  3. You may choose to augment your existing coaching staff with external Agile Coaching advisors.   

  4. Finally, you may evolve and mature into your own Agile Consultancy for other organizations or units within your organization. 

In conclusion, there are many areas impacted that MUST be included in your Agile Transformation…not just the individual Teams, but Leadership, middle-management, and supporting Teams all must learn and embrace the Mindset shifts required to execute a successful Agile Transformation

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