March 21, 2018

Why are organizations not seeing the benefits of doing Agile?

Due to a difference in goals and approaches, friction occurs between Agile teams and the rest of the organization - who has yet to see the benefits...

Agile is now mainstream and it is transforming the way we work. Primarily, we see great success with the adoption of Agile on a team-level; this includes better prioritization, improved communication, and waste reduction. However, on an organizational level, most companies have yet to achieve the promised benefits of being Agile.

The reason is that Agile continues to reside in only one part of the organization - most often in the IT department. This means that the enterprise as a whole is not Agile. Consequently, Agile teams experience success in a limited context. Once they start interacting with the rest of the organization, they fall back into the old non-Agile ways of doing work.

Organizational Misalignment with Agile

Source: Scrum Alliance® Transformational Leadership For Business Agility

During the Scrum Alliance’s Certified Agile Leadership webinar series, two of the guest speakers - Sanjiv Augustine and Arlen Bankston - described three types of organizational misalignment with Agile:

1. Dependency: For most organizations, dependency management is a big problem. Opposed to building truly cross-functional teams, people are still required to reach out and depend on others outside of their own team. As a result, organizations bury this dependency issue by growing the team size up to 25 members or more. With such a large team size, companies are unable to catch problems early on and track it through to resolution.

2. Silo-based Hierarchy: The inherent resistance to change means silo-based hierarchy remains embedded in the organization. Therefore, silos such as QA, Testing, and External Production exist within integrated teams and hierarchies exist within each silo. This results in the problem of “Who do we report to? Manager? Product Owner? or ScrumMaster?”. By taking away the team members’ power to make decisions on their own, companies are unable to readily adapt to changing demands.

3. Project Multitasking: The emphasis on resource maximization compels organizations to assign people to multiple projects at one given time. In theory, costly downtime is avoided by deploying expertise to where and when it is needed. In reality, it is far less productive because time is wasted on adjusting to new teams and switching attention between tasks. Due to the stress of being pulled across multiple projects, companies are unable to deliver shippable products on a timely basis.

Agile needs to go beyond the IT department and spread across the organization.

These types of organizational misalignment stem from a lack of proper understanding in the Agile principles. It also signals the need for change in both mindset and culture, which has to begin with senior management.

Management has a central role to play as an Agile Leader. They are the ones who have to keep an eye on the destination so that everyone is rowing towards the same direction. In order to lead the Agile transformation in an organization, management must start with him- or herself by understanding the Agile principles, adopting the Agile mindset, fostering an Agile culture, and applying the Agile principles.


If you are interested in learning more about leading Agile organizations and teams, join us at Regional Scrum Gathering® Canada in Toronto on March 26th to 27th. Visit our booth to speak with one of our business agility coaches -or- contact canada@agile42.com for more information about becoming a Certified Agile Leader.


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Hazel Wong

Marketing Assistant at agile42. Passionate about gaining insights from data in order to create content that resonates with the audience. Eager to help teams and companies open their mindset about the application of agile methods to address their challenges.
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Hazel Wong

Marketing Assistant at agile42. Passionate about gaining insights from data in order to create content that resonates with the audience. Eager to help teams and companies open their mindset about the application of agile methods to address their challenges.

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