How can leadership contribute to the success of agile transformation?

How can business leadership help agile transformation succeed?

Much has been written on the topic of agility of development and business teams. However, it is rare to talk about what helps agility in the company at the level of the company’s management. At the same time, the involvement of the company’s top management in agile transformation is crucial to its success.

Therefore, in today’s article I present ten of the most important points from my point of view, which I have collected over several years in transformations, consultations and discussions with many companies. These points should be considered by the company’s management in agile transformation.

1. Expectations from agile transformation

Right at the beginning of the transformation, it pays to organize a workshop with members of the company’s management and discuss what they expect agile transformation to bring. This workshop is usually facilitated by a senior agile coach. At the same time, it will help to reach conclusions that will help the agile transformation to effectively meet the expectations and where it will not be very effective. It is also important that the company’s management gains agreement on the need for agile transformation.

2. Looking around in agile is good for everyone – agile coach for BoD

Help in starting with agility is needed not only by teams, but it is advisable to have a senior agile coach available for various consultations or coaching even at the level of the company’s management. It’s okay to choose someone who really fits your approach and at the same time has enough experience. An agile coach working with the management of a company is a necessity and not a superfluous luxury. Without an agile coach, the company’s management can unknowingly bring back agility in the rest of the company by functioning to which it has been accustomed.

3. Active and continuous support of transformation by the company’s management

If the transformation is to succeed, people need to hear from the company’s management that they want the transformation and know what its expectations are. Perhaps the best results came when management had the space to provide truly active support for the transformation. For many people, transformation is a journey out of their comfort zone, so it is very important to see and hear that this change is in demand and we are not alone.

4. Safe environment

Introducing an agile approach to the business means iterative development and constant verification from customer reactions whether you are going the right way. If you want teams to be creative and not afraid to find ways to best meet customer needs, establishing a safe environment and transparency is a must. In many companies, there are still projects that are being worked on, but there is no courage to say that they are already riding a dead horse. However, the sooner you learn about such situations, the less it costs you. A learning company is a goal.

5. Go See or contact with teams without intermediaries

Don’t just rely on mediated information about teams as they get their work done. It is best to have contact directly with people in teams. Go and see the teams in the company sometimes, or sit next to them for a while. It is important that teams get used to such a visit at first and do not have to prepare flashy presentations. The goal is to see how your teams really live and what bothers them.

6. Priority for transformation

The transformation of a company is such a serious topic that it deserves to be given the highest priority. These are usually major changes in the culture, structure and functioning of the company that take a long time. But like any change, if it runs for too long, agile transformation can lose momentum over time. At the same time, we also give a signal to people in the company about how important it is. You can read about what happens when we work on too many tasks at once in our article Illusions about team performance and fragmented focus.

7. Learning company

If you’re serious about agility, be prepared for the fact that your teams’ first design is likely to be flawed. And it’s okay. Rather than spending months or years analyzing in detail what to do, it’s sometimes better to try to make a change on a smaller scale and then adapt. The transformation itself should not run as a project planned in detail in advance, but use elements of agile management. It is important to learn from mistakes and move on, not to get stuck in one place.

8. Supporting business value delivery

Help your business discover the business value of your products. Always ask your people what the project or activity is supposed to bring, unless it is clearly stated by them. And that’s just the beginning. Did the activity really deliver what you expected? If not, how do you try to customize it?

9. Supporting the involvement of internal people in agile transformation

Involve internal people in the transformation. If changes in the company are devised by internal people in cooperation with agile coaches, the change will be more permanent and people will own it more than if a consulting firm dictates the changes to you.

10. Agile is not just Scrum

If you’re transforming a large company, expect that Not all Teams will be able to apply Scrum. Today, Scrum has become synonymous with agility, but despite its indisputable advantages, it can only be effectively used somewhere. Many large companies find out only during the transformation that tens of percent of their production teams prefer to use Kanban, a combination of Scrum and Kanban or “just” a change in culture in the team.


In today’s article, I have selected only a few topics out of many. Did today’s recommendations seem too elementary to you? Write for another one or request a consultation from us on a specific topic. And what form of leadership support has worked for you?

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