Accelerating your Agile ambitions

Accelerating your Agile ambitions

Faster delivery. Lower costs. Better results. These are some of the benefits that have made Agile the ‘go to’ approach for technology delivery in both the private and the public sector. Not bad for a methodology that started life designing websites.

However, many of the programmes now using Agile are much more comprehensive and complex than website design. They go far beyond technology implementation to incorporate fundamental changes to working practices and operating models.

This is where the limitations of Agile methodologies start to show. While there are reams of methodology that will help you tell your Portfolio Kanban from your Value Stream, and your Release Train Engineer from your Scrum Master, there is very little that demonstrates how to effectively integrate leading edge people practices into Agile delivery.

Agile methodology has little to say about how business design and business change teams should work alongside Agile delivery teams, and how their work can be most effectively managed. Yet these components are fundamental to successful large-scale transformational change.

Here are six areas managers need to look at more closely to accelerate their Agile approach.

Build a compelling case for change

Persuading others to get on board with change is never simple. How much harder then with an Agile approach which – by its very nature – resists defining the final destination before the journey begins.
Find out how to ensure your guiding coalition is still on-board and how to build real-time staff feedback into your case for change.

Engage and enable people

In an Agile environment, change happens often, and quickly. Traditional communications and training approaches with long development and review cycles risk slowing you down.
Going digital, flattening hierarchy and ensuring business accountability is crucial – and will not only engage staff but release their energy and enthusiasm for the change.

Design the business

When time is pressing and budgets squeezed, there is always a temptation to simply replace existing systems, rather than carry out a fundamental review and redesign of the processes they serve.

But getting rid of historic working practices that are no longer the best way to do things – and planning a leaner, more efficient operating model – makes a dramatic difference to results.

Enable change leadership

Leading change that doesn’t proceed in a straight line but finds its own direction through a series of iterations requires a particular skill. So a key challenge for organisations embarking on Agile change is to make sure leaders have the capabilities, values and behaviours required to champion change effectively.

Change leaders are fundamental to Agile programme success, where teams may be regularly impacted over an extended period of time and business continuity must be maintained.

Drive the programme

Where do Change Managers sit in the Agile world? Do Change teams develop User Stories? Are they story pointed? Should they be part of the Agile stand-up, backlog elaboration and retrospective sessions?

Embedding an effective business design and business change presence alongside well-established Scrum team structures and rituals can be confusing – but is well worth the effort.

Embed new behaviours

Agile is known as a software development methodology – but at its heart is all about values, behaviours and culture. Under-estimating the importance of behaviours in an Agile culture will result in challenges later on the journey.

But a true Agile culture presents myriad advantages and possibilities, from greater creativity and innovation to more personal accountability and faster decision-making.
Read more about each of these six areas in our follow up pieces on Agile Business Change.

Agile holds huge promise as an approach to delivering technology: faster delivery, lower costs and better results. But using it successfully means recognising the broader organisational challenges that come with large-scale technology change. By adding a focus on business change and people practices to Agile techniques, change managers can supercharge their delivery efforts.

Read more about Agile change management:

Follow the leader

The new rules of engagement

For more information contact


Tara Jones is a director in PA Consulting’s London office, where Dennis Layton is a principal.

The authors would like to thank Andrea Alexander, Mauricio Arnau, Lori Dobeus, Kirill Dushkin, Lauren Miller, and Katie Smith for their contributions to this report.

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