Agile TransformationCritical Success FactorsLean

Critical Success Factors for Agile Transformation (part 1)

Agile Transformation

Part of the ‘Designing and Implementing a Successful Agile Transformation’ series of posts.

Agile Transformation Critical Success Factors


An Agile Transformation, as with any change initiative or project, starts off with a vision. The person with this vision has seen the extraordinary results that Lean thinking and Agile Principles and Values bring to an organization. Sometimes though, a transformation like this will be the result of corrective action to get the enterprise back on track with their customers expectations, or to increase profitability or to simply become more responsive in a world where a disrupter is starting to turn your world upside down. During the Visioning stage of Agile Transformation a clear Agile vision and strategy for achieving it needs to be laid down. What a great opportunity to apply visioning exercises with stakeholders, deriving Features and Epics from the Vision, sizing those change initiatives and then groom and execute them in sprints throughout the Agile Transformation.

Creating an Agile Transformation roadmap with release planning and having teams commit to work for the duration of the sprint with the emphasis on delivering a done increment of the Agile Transformation creates the sense of urgency or drive that is needed in a change initiative. The vision is accompanied by strong, united senior management sponsorship, and these stakeholders in the transformation would need to see results. These results will take on many forms, but what a brilliant opportunity to showcase your transformation results in a Review Ceremony to the sponsors and enablers of the change initiative. Through this, we are collaborating with our sponsors, showcasing progress and obstacles, and discuss the course of re-calibration action for implementation in the next transformation sprint.


As we embark on the journey to agility, training all roles in the organization will make the difference between a successful transformation and a disaster. People within the organization need to learn about the concepts of self-organization, decentralized decision making (or empowerment of individuals through servant leadership and doing away with power hungry command and control management styles), hierarchies that are remodeled into networks, about learning organizations that is responsive to empirical learning through welcomed mistakes that we should be making continuously in order to innovate and that privacy now translates to transparency.

Any existing Agile activity in the organization needs to align their operations to the enterprise transformation, which usually only involves small tweaks if it was done properly from the onset. As our sponsors plan the next increment of the Agile Transformation, they should be cognizant of the low hanging fruits and consolidate them into sooner sprints for quick wins. For example, stop sending project status reports, and ask executives and managers to come to the portfolio Kanban, and discuss progress with representatives from each team. Summarize this into a status report if there is still a need and make it visible to all. Another example of a quick win would be setting up Kanban boards per team and have these kept in sync with the portfolio board.


During the traction phase we start aligning all processes to enable interoperability with systems and processes. Here the Lean concept of Value Stream Mapping (VSM) comes in handy, where a process or value stream is taken from start to end by following the path to value creation. It maps out all value adding vs. non value-adding time, and provides you with critical insights. These insights include areas where waste (non-value adding activity) takes place in the value stream, the magnitude of the waste, and where we should optimize this process in order for it to become lean, efficient and productive.

Another characteristic of the Traction phase is that during this phase, we embed the Agile mindset with people, which rolls up to teams, business units and then something magic happens. The organization reaches the fifth Focus which is organizational agility.

In my next post I will be examining the Transition Management phase of an Agile Transformation.

What’s Next?

  • If you need assistance with an Agile Transformation in any way, form or shape please contact us here.
  • If you need Agile training from team to portfolio level, check out our training menu on top.
  • If you need coaching or consulting help, please contact us here.
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