When it comes to agile adoption, there are countless success stories to be told. However, just as often, we find accounts of agile adoptions that fall short of expectations. Plenty of other blogs highlight the common reasons for failure; lack of an agile mindset, rigidity of practices and organizational complexity. In this post, we’ll spotlight what I consider to be one of the lesser mentioned, but perhaps the greatest, contributors to agile adoption failure: Businesses fail to identify the problem they’re trying to solve.

A transition to agile is a change event. Best practices say that to manage sustainable change, there needs to be clear communication why change is needed, how it will be enacted, when it will be enacted and the benefits to the business of enacting the change. This should be the blueprint for planning an adoption of agile. However, many business fail to perform this exercise. Instead, they focus on standing-up teams and going through the practice motions without acknowledging the problem.

Businesses should answer these questions:

  • What needs to change to accelerate business agility?
  • What are the business problems that need to be solved and what specifically is it about agile that’s going to help solve them?

Common example answers for businesses:

  • The ability to react quickly to emerging market conditions
  • Change project/product specifications on the fly
  • Partner with end users building what’s most valuable to them

When planning an agile adoption, always have a clear picture of what success would look like. Success criteria should be specific enough to be measurable. This will allow you to step back and clearly see that the adoption of agile provided measurable “lift” to the business and therefore was a success. Without measurable success, one might falsely conclude that the agile adoption has failed.

Want to know more?

At Client Resources, Inc., we’ve partnered with many clients around the Midwest, including businesses based in Omaha, Des Moines and Chicago. We are the partner that clients have come to know and trust to help plan and guide successful agile transformations. Whether you’re just beginning or are in the middle of an agile transformation, we’d love to hear from you. To learn more about commonly used agile terms and concepts, view our agile glossary. You can connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or email.

Tom Schaeffer

Tom is the Practice Director for Agile Consulting Services at Client Resources Inc in Omaha, NE. He specializes in lean, agile, and scrum helping companies catapult their market position by building extremely high performance development organizations.

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