What is Agile Transformation?


What is Agile Transformation?

Abid Quereshi said this recently:
‘”Agile transformation” is another one of our made-up terms like Agile BA, Agile Tester, Agile PM and Agile Coach.’

By this he means, as he explained, that people use a term, but do not agree on its meaning, or that the meaning is so broad as to be almost meaningless.

Lots of people are talking about Agile Transformation. It is a very broad word, and used in many ways. Because the meaning is so broad and the word is used by different people to have notably different meanings, it is, as Abid says, almost meaningless.


Let’s attempt a definition that is narrower than usual. This is not an agreed definition, but rather a working definition by Joe.

In a large Department or Division (say 300 people), Agile Transformation is having “everything” agile, so that “all” the people doing new product development are using Agile (defined most simply as Scrum plus other things). We do not literally mean all people, but a very high proportion are in Scrum teams.  The group includes both Tech people and Biz people. And some, outside teams, are managers and individual contributors of other sorts. But mostly those other people support the Teams.

Success with Agile Transformation means that the culture (at least around new product development) has become based on Agile Principles. (I think this idea is right.  How to define it as an hypothesis that can be proven is hard.)

Now, the overall point of Agile Transformation must have a higher purpose. We think that purpose might be defined as attaining higher overall business goals. These might be things such as: higher revenue, more profit, higher customer satisfaction, higher quality, more happiness for the employees, etc.

So, an Agile Transformation cannot be said to be really successful unless those business goals are in some sense higher.

Note: I narrowed Agile Transformation to 300 people (or so) at a time.  I think this is key.  I said Agile Transformation must always be seen as a means to achieving key business goals.  Key, I think.  Culture is important; again key.

No silver bullet

Let’s be fair. Agile is not a silver bullet. Other things than Agile can have have a significant impact on business success. Examples:

  • Competition
  • Quality of our business ideas
  • The Business cycle

But have we really defined agile and agile success?

We have not said which agile practices the Teams are doing.

We have not said what the agile principles (values) were and how we would know if they were well socialized with the group. We have not said if the agile principles have led to good actions and then to good results.

Outside the teams, we have not defined how it was organized nor practices we might be using in the larger group.

You start to see how complex Agile Transformation is.

More soon.


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