Why Agile Transformations Fail & 3 Things To Start Doing Today

You see it all the time: business leaders emphasizing the critical need for their organization to become agile. Informed by the inspiration of seeing other companies that operate on and reap the benefits of being agile, they hire coaches, process consultants, and more to “transform” their organization.

Yet when these coaches and consultants leave, the organization sees little to no long-term improvement. Why is this?

I’ve seen it come down to one simple reason: lack of trust.

The word “agile” in 2021 brings a lot of baggage with it. What started over two decades ago as a simple manifesto has expanded into an industry of processes, certifications, and dangerous amounts of organizational overhead.

Executives looking to transform their organization have a catalogue of processes to choose from that “check the box” for agile, but which really just amount to supporting the comfort of ongoing and heavy-handed managerial control through process.

In order to truly transform, organizations need to put in the hard work of shifting their company culture to cultivate trust and collaboration across the organization. This is slow and difficult; it can take months or even years.

It requires the organization, notably the leadership, to become comfortable with healthy amounts of intentional ambiguity, which fosters the long-lasting culture required for enabling the production of incredible results.

Here are three exercises you can start doing at your organization today to cultivate trust:

1. Retrospect regularly

Whether you’re an executive or a developer on a small team, you can set a positive example by hosting a team retrospective. Start small; a 30-minute roundtable discussion on what has recently gone well, what you have learned from, and any ideas the team has to improve will start to positively grow trust.

2. Acknowledge the emotions of change

At Crema, we often begin our meetings running through a brief feelings wheel exercise. Acknowledging we are all messy, emotional humans has been an invaluable tool to quickly establish trust, clearing the atmosphere for a team to focus on solving problems.

3. Prioritize individual coaching

Your people are your company’s best asset for growth and should be invested in accordingly. Nothing is more powerful than a regular one-on-one that focuses on powerful questions that promote transformational growth.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to focus on the tangibles, like process and tools. It’s challenging, yet more rewarding, to focus on empowering people in your organization with trust.

With over a decade of experience in partnering with startups, enterprises, and Fortune 500 companies, at Crema, we know that people are what empowers great teams. We’ve created coaching services built around cultivating and empowering this critical part of your organization.

Each organization is unique. If you’d like to chat and see how we could help with a plan tailored for your company, feel free to get in touch!

Michael Luchen

About Michael Luchen

I’m the Senior Digital Product Manager for the talented team at Crema, where we partner with top enterprises and startups to craft products that change the world. My team is made up of over 30 brilliant product designers, developers and strategists building digital products for innovative brands, growing small businesses and a few select startups. With my team, I’ve managed a variety of digital products with enterprises, small businesses and startups that range multiple industries including staffing, wearables and non-profit. The breadth of our projects have ranged from user validation engagements to large, multiplatform products that target the web, iOS, Android, and more. We collaboratively solve our clients' most complicated business problems using our proven approach to product development.

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