The Agilessons™


[aj-uhl les-uh-ns] n.
1. How to realize corporate agility and rapidly evolve in the face of accelerating disruption.
2. Unfiltered insights from industry leaders who have lived and thrived through Agile transformations.

Based on discussions with seasoned agilists and contributors from around the world, we gleaned six Agile lessons, or “Agilessons™,” that underpin successful Agile transformations.

Initiate with Intent

Become an executive sponsor and nurture the “one-team” culture by instilling the vision of “Why Agile?” Do this by being on the ground and empowering interactions between all team members, regardless of rank or position. Furthermore, ensure your team understands that the transformation will take time and effort and will not happen overnight. Utilize effective communications and flexibility in your scaling approach to circumvent the potential onset disgruntled or disengaged employees when the adoption of Agile is not what was hoped.

Cultivate Your Culture

In Agile, culture is key. Ensure you foster the right one by identifying and leveraging your change champions and top performers, both within and outside the corporation. Then, utilize them to proliferate the culture of trust and fail-fast-mentality you’ll need to succeed. Finally, understand that your distribution of demographics, in terms of backgrounds and nationalities, may affect how Agile is adopted. Account for this and adjust your approach accordingly.

Transform Your Team

Leverage your HR department to identify characteristics of those that will thrive under Agile–adaptive, collaborative, rapid, transparent–and trust in their ability to find them within and outside your corporation. Then, empower your teams to become the workforce of tomorrow: utilize customized learning and development programs, seek out detractors and bring them along on the journey, and help your middle managers transition into their new role under an Agile way of working.

Work Wisely

Find ways of working that will enable your teams to thrive. To do this, take the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto in stride. Specifically, prioritize simplicity regarding your documentation and processes, and ensure that your customers’ needs are understood and accounted for at all stages of the journey. Furthermore, consider an iterative approach to scaling Agile itself. This Nail and Scale method has found much success by starting Agile small within a pilot group and scaling it, learning along the way. Be aware, however, of the common pitfalls that may arise when undertaking this method of scaling.

Measure with Meaning

As a common part of everyday life, metrics can be a powerful tool in gauging your progress towards success, however it’s been defined. The translation to a corporate setting is apt. Throughout the course of your implementation journey, answer the three key questions and identify the metrics that can help gauge where you are on your journey towards corporate agility: “How do I know I’m progressing towards strategic objectives?,” “How do I know I’m doing Agile?,” and “How do I know I’m being agile?.” Understand the differences between these questions, and the different metrics they require.

Forge Forward

Understand the common trends and behaviors that may indicate Agile has taken root within your corporation. If Agile has become the new normal and this fundamental change in your DNA has occurred, identify other methodologies that can and should coexist with Agile. Similar to Agile, these methodologies are unique and powerful independently. Find the one, or combination, that works for you. Whichever you choose, however, the original lesson is apt: as the world continues to change, and new methodologies come into existence, the underlying themes of Agile are set up to work in conjunction.