09 Jun

Why Agile Transformations Fail?

Why Agile Transformations Fail

To embrace the Agile approach, development teams have to adhere to a set of principles. For this, the teams with cross-functional and self-organizing capabilities have to collaborate to evolve the desired solutions. While this demands continuous improvement and adaptive planning on the part of individual team members, the approach can promote evolutionary development and achieve supple response to change.

Organizations that adopt the Agile approach undergo a Journey that Transforms Agile approach undergo a journey that transforms the way their business functions. The transformation process requires an enormous effort from all the stakeholders and performers to manage the change successfully. There are several pitfalls that could stall the progress and render the Agile transformation as failed. As there is always more to learn from failures than success, the reasons for Agile transformation mishaps could serve as an important learning guide. Discussed here are some of the reasons that lead to the transitional failures.

9th Annual State of Agile Survey

Partial Transformation

Continuous iterations and introspections are at the core of the Agile framework, and it is, by no means, purely developmental; rather it is organizational. This means that change must not be limited to just the delivery team, but also should be embraced by the organization as a whole. This necessitates the transformation to be driven in both top-down and bottom-up directions, simultaneously. Continuous iterations cannot be bunched together with the big bang releases customary to the traditional approach. Neither can they fit well with the big marketing campaigns and the much-anticipated budget forecasts. This totally disrupts the operational rhythm of the organization transitioning from the traditional approach. Total transformation, therefore, becomes imperative. Even if the delivery team has completely transitioned, the major benefits of the transformation might be missing. If core departments like marketing, finance, sales, and support are not aligned with this incremental business delivery approach, the organization tends to lose-out on the primary advantages of the transformation endeavor.

Leadership Impediments

The inventive method requires the management to govern the delivery teams differently. Lack of organizational focus can result in various failure modes. One of the primary issues that evolve is the leadership non-alignment. The agile approach does not allow any negotiation on deadlines. Also, quality cannot be compromised at any cost, but it allows for flexibility in the content. This means only finished stories can the part of a sprint delivery. As release dates cannot be delayed, unfinished stories have to be put into the next iteration. If the leadership starts scathing the delivery teams for the delay and imposes decisions to postpone the releases, it could affect the morale and also the productivity of the teams. This type of obstacles from the leadership is one of the reasons that can result in the structural breakdown of the transformation process.

Unbalanced Coaching

Agile approach demands qualitative retrospect at the conclusion of every sprint at both team and organizational level. While the core agility comes from self-organizing teams, coaches and managers have a vital role. They are desired to guide and support the team to find solutions, yet their chief task is to encourage the teams to make their own decisions. When coaches start to impose the assignments and prioritize unaligned process elements, the fragile dynamics of the team can go turbulent. This could diminish the morale and lead to decreased productivity. The exaggerated indulgence from line management is one of the usual factors which lead to unsuccessful agile transformation. On the other hand, disinterested coaches who have no action plan for success and lack of vision can also hamper the performance of the team. This is another extreme that can be done away with to achieve successful Agile transformation.

Agile in the US

Incoherent Structure

When following the manifesto, all stakeholders, including the leadership, client and team members must communicate constantly. Seamless interaction leads to effective collaboration and ensures all the parties are on the same page. While the need for collaboration tools is imperative, the participants are also required to use them effectively. Efficient sharing of instant information, irrespective of the geographic disparity and dissimilar time-zones, is needed to maintain the dynamics of the teams. If the stakeholders are unable to communicate and collaborate with each other, crucial decisions are bound to go wrong and waste the critical resources. Even if one of the teams is non-aligned or left disengaged, it could trickle down to the entire transformation effort, rendering it as unsuccessful.

Cultural Disengagements

While it can be considered under the broader context of incoherent structure, fragmented culture needs an exclusive focus, altogether. To say the least, it is the individuals who are at the core of the entire transformation process. While software and communication tools along with customer collaboration are the other primary components, it all depends on the efforts of the individuals at the end. Hence, any form of collaborative disharmony can affect the cultural transformation. Conformance to the Agile manifesto calls complete changes in not just the way the product is designed and delivered but also the way the teams are guided and emotionally handled. This calls for cultural collaboration among all the stakeholders. Without appropriate changes in the culture, the entire transition endeavor can fail, resulting in continuous chaos, with little or no benefits altogether.

These aspects of agile policy conclude that successful transformation is based on various factors like right expectations, maximum collaboration, cohesive structure and mindset for total transformation. Else, the entire effort to go Agile will deprive the legitimacy and benefits for the all the stakeholders.

Key Takeaways

  • To conform to the Agile approach, organizations have to undergo a journey that transforms the way their business functions.
  • To guide the self-organizing teams, coaches have to support the teams to find solutions, rather than imposing operational restrictions.
  • Irrespective of dissimilar geography and time-zones, efficient sharing of instant information is needed to maintain the dynamics of the teams.