Taking responsibility for the impact of agility

Sponsoring and leading an agile transformation is hard, and leads to far higher disruption to the organization than expected. Experiencing the real impact of agility, results that make it worth the disruption, requires a different way of leading change. Agility must be treated as a product for the organization, and must meet the needs of the leaders “buying” agility in the organization: they need results faster, cheaper, and more fit-for-purpose than they get today. They need their products and businesses to “just work”. As a transformation sponsor trying to deliver against those expectations, you will benefit from the advice and guidance of someone who’s been through that journey before and will help you avoid the mistakes and accelerate the successes. Ready for a guide?

Agility with impact

If you’re doing agile, you’re looking for benefits to your bottom line and your time to market. Agility doesn’t really pay off fully until it’s successfully applied across the organization, and that goes far beyond the launching of teams, trains, and other agile structures… it requires fundamentally rewiring many of the policies, approaches, and controls in your organization, as well as intentionally planting the seeds that result in an effective culture of agility… and launching the teams and trains. If you’re able to navigate these dynamics, you’ll end up with truly transformative results: Time to market reduced to a fraction of previous speed, products that are fit-for-purpose AND delight customers, and a healthy organizational platform that can evolve to meet new challenges without the pain and disruption previously experienced.

The challenge

Success with your initial agile experiments can lead to extreme risk of not fixing the underlying organizational behaviors before trying to duplicate that success everywhere. This explosion can set agility back years, and cost people their jobs despite otherwise doing the right things. Learning from the mistakes (and successes!) of others can avoid avoid many of these outcomes and lead to success for the current agile transformation you’re sponsoring and leading.

Shows the challenges and risk exposure of attempting to scale agile techniques rapidly in an organization before the organization is ready, which leads to setting agility back in the organization significantly.
Fig 1 – Damaging impact of premature scaling

Any of these ring true?

I’ve led organizations, and I’ve led change, but this agile change is very different. It’s expecting a lot of different things from me

There are a lot of different threads around improvement and corporate change that touch on “agile”, and I’m not sure where I should focus my energy and investments

I’m an agile expert, and I’ve applied it at the ART and product level a lot, but I this overall change is far more challenging

All these related agile-related transformations, like DevOps, digital, agile, product… it’s a big ball of yarn. I’m a bit in over my head, and I could really use someone to help me navigate this to be successful

The real challenge

Improving execution by deploying agile teams and ARTs is only a third of what you need to do in leading a transformation. Frameworks like SAFe address a critical part of transformation… and yet it’s only one part.

Agile transformation is a product being offered to the organization, and you need to deliver a whole product. You need to build the platform and the product team that is capable of delivering what people are really buying with agility: improved delivery of their products, platforms and services.

Building to that whole product requires being a true product manager of transformation, and getting there requires a much different framing than just leading a center of excellence or corporate change initiative. You need to manage the team and the relationships across three different main areas, each of which requires different skills, working groups, and executive collaborations.

There are three areas of investment that are required to successfully drive agile transformation in a significant enterprise, and inexperienced transformation leaders often neglect 2/3 of them.
Fig 2 – three focus areas for agility

Want help?

These challenges can’t be avoided on the agile transformation journey. You will face them if you’re sponsoring or mentoring agile change, the only question is if you will be ready.

The best way to be ready is to take the journey alongside someone who has met these problems head on, experienced the challenges, made the mistakes, and discovered the better ways of achieving agility with impact.

Need help? My Agile Sponsorship Mentorship Program may be right for you.