Making Agile Stick: Be Disruptive

At the heart of Agile Transformations is the goal of finding new and better ways of achieving results that customers can enjoy and also make agile habits stick.  When we start these transformations, we often begin with the basic values of the Agile Manifesto.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

From these powerful basics, we tend to try to deploy agile frameworks to “get the transformation going”.  This can lead us to initially define our transformation by getting good at the following:

  • Scrum or Kanban
  • Daily Stand-ups
  • Building Backlogs
  • Having meaningful retrospectives
  • Maybe scale our Agility in some way

This does typically lead to gains which are important, but we should challenge ourselves with the following:

  1.  Are these gains evolutionary or are they revolutionary?
  2. Do these gains represent all the achievements possible?
  3. Are these changes sewn into the fabric of the organization, or are they only temporary?

My experience tells me that along the way to building truly Agile Organizations, we get good at one or more of the frameworks, but not good at the fundamental underlying cultural change needed to make it last.  We also sometimes lose a bit of focus on what success looks like. We might start measuring the number of Scrum Teams created, the successful training of our associate teams, or the introduction of new tools like Jira to build backlogs.  These are important steps, but perhaps not as important as the achievement groundbreaking outcomes, like moving applications to the cloud or mobilization of all application offerings.

I don’t want to trivialize the initial gains achieved by the new habits of the above frameworks. They are great, but maybe they limit our true Transformation capability if we don’t challenge ourselves further.  In my travels, research, and discussion, the true power of Agility is in the ability to create an organization that, at its core, continuously challenges itself to be better, reach higher heights, and to be dissatisfied with the status quo – whatever it has become or evolved into. 

In a word – we need to build organizations that “Disrupt” themselves – Forever!

As an Agile Transformation Coach, I believe my role is to be a model for continuous organizational disruption and demonstrate the behavior of never being ok with the status quo.

By helping coach and create an environment that continues to challenge itself and knows how to be constructively disruptive, we set our overall culture to a modality of change that is ever-evolving.  The institutionalization of this type of culture fundamentally aims to never be satisfied with:

  • Time to market
  • Quality of product
  • Dynamics of the team
  • Current skills and capabilities
  • Competitive product advantages
  • Market Share

This does not mean we don’t celebrate milestones and victories of achievement. It does mean once we have achieved a goal and perhaps launched a new product or application, the new target is to make that irrelevant and to supplant it with the next newer and better version that our customers celebrate.  Our customers have ever-evolving objectives and needs, a culture of continuous disruption and dissatisfaction with the status quo may be the best way to meet that challenge!


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