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Agile Adoption: Start with why

This might seem obvious but in my experience some organizations/teams fail to define SMART goals for agile adoption because they have not had serious conversations on why agile adoption makes sense for the team/org.


Answering why will highlight the key realizable benefits and more importantly the benefits that will be out of reach.

Yes, you read it correctly: Out of all the benefits of agile there may be some ( or many) that are unrealizable depending on the reason(s) for agile adoption.

Here are a few “fictional” examples that setup the agile transition team for failure

Reason for agile adoption What it probably means
The top companies use agile methodology We want to be like the cool kids
We need to be seen as “agile” to recruit top talent Let’s put lipstick on a pig and hope no one notices
It was a directive from leadership Let’s just do enough to look good on paper

Hopefully these are not actual reasons you hear.

If you are reading this to know what the benefits of agile are and how to evaluate suitability, we will cover that soon. However if you would rather learn about it now then head over to Benefits page and then the Evaluation page.


The rest of this section assumes that your project has been found to be suitable for agile methodology.

Ok, so if the reason(s) for agile adoption determine the outcome, what are some examples of “good” reasons for agile adoption. We are getting to that but first let’s discuss commitment needed for favorable outcome.

Depending on the size of the organization/ number of teams, mindset and desired competency levels, agile adoption

  • timeframe could be between 6 months to 2+ years
  • cost could run from a few thousand to 100s of thousands.

Size: This one is easy, time and cost investment will be proportional to number of teams/stakeholders involved in agile transformation.

Mindset: This is THE most important factor in getting highest value from agile adoption. A fixed mindset will almost guarantee failure. Growth mindset is essential for all competency levels. It is not possible to talk about mindset in a single paragraph, a detailed discussion is available at Agile mindset.

Competency Levels: this is sometimes referred to as agile maturity. I prefer the term competency because it is something that can be planned for and achieved with the appropriate level of commitment. I have developed a Competency model with four bands, the highest band offers the greatest benefits.

Value to the organization/team, of tranistioning to agile, is dependent on many factors. For now let’s be aware of the “value range”.

Value ranges from 1x to 10x of traditional approach.

What do you mean the lower end starts at 1x, same as traditional?
Yes, when agile adoption is for the wrong reasons and there is lack of commitment then there maybe no value gained.The power of agile methodology is unleashed when there is strong commitment and participants have a growth mindset. Most teams adopting agile will fall somewhere in between 1x and 10x.


Organizations and teams will get exactly the outcome commensurate with the commitment made to agile transformation.

Story: Kanban at Scale – A Siemens Success Story

Let’s get back to discussing “good” reasons for agile adoption. These reasons lead to the best outcome by driving the right behaviors in the teams/stakeholders.

Here are a few examples

Reason for agile adoption What it probably means
Improve customer satisfaction Ability to handle changing requirements at any stage in the project
Deliver frequently Reduce time to market by incrementally delivering working software