Maybe agile ISN'T right for your org?


Came across this and it got me thinking…maybe we should assess an organization to see if agile is really for them BEFORE we begin a transformation? Does anyone actually look to see if agile is the right fit before they begin the journey? I know in the consultant world this statement is probably heretical, but maybe some of our trials and tribulations are the direct result of forcing a square peg into a round hole?


@JayH we just had that heart to heart as we looked at expanding to new products in my companies Lean-Agile Journey. Our goal was to do 100% of our products. We have Distributed development in the US and Banglore.

Our stance is collocated, teams for a product in both countries. So to rebalance the organization for some of the products would be cost and time prohibitive. To then invest more time in training and coach to new ways of working.

Another driving factor we looked at is where is the Product in its overall product life cycle. Does not make sense to make major investments in a product that is essentially ready to go into maintenance mode where the main updates are features to keep up with the Jone’s and regulatory compliance.

The third decision point was the software capitalization. We have products that cap both in the SAS guidelines and the other Standard which requires heavy documentation. May only be a US-specific concern.

So that leaves us with 60% of the products to move to Agile. 40% to an enhanced iterative waterfall using Agile practices were they fit. We will though focus 100% of all products on a cultural transformation aspects.



I’m not into Agile consulting myself but I can relate to this one. I was working for a large company whose culture was very waterfall centric and resistant to change. About 12 years ago my boss and I at the time went to Agile 2007 (I think) and got dunked in the “Agile Kool-aid” and tried to bring back those principles and attempted a transformation ourselves. So yeah that was an absolute failure. Looking back I would have done so many things differently, specifically with our experience level at the time had someone outside come in and work the transformation / training vs us doing it ourselves.

So long story short I absolutely agree that assessing whether Agile is going to even have a hope of being a fit is a good idea. Sometimes it’s just not going to happen unfortunately.

Thank you for sharing the assessment framework @JayH!


The similar idea has shared Michael Sahota in his short book " An Agile Adoption and Transformation Survival Guide". He uses Schneider Model to asses the culture of an organization:

If the current company’s culture is in the “Control” quadrant, then it’s nearly impossible to do any Agile transformation. As Agile values and principles mostly live in quadrants “Collaboration” and “Cultivation”, partially in “Competence”.
And most big companies have “Control” culture…


I love this book, I reference it all the time. I actually paid to have a hardcopy so I could highlight/make notes.