Going Agile is Not (always) Disruptive

December 10, 2019
3 minute read

“Going Agile” should be a transformative process. But it doesn’t have to be a disruptive one.

A lot of organizations today talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk. They talk about innovation, but they’re not necessarily willing to accept the risk that comes with that. In other words, failure is not an option.

It is a challenge then for a lot of organizations to adopt an Agile mindset because Agile practices like Scrum and Kanban are all about inspecting and adapting. It’s an empirical process.

Not all experiments are successful.

The light bulb wasn’t invented in the first try. It’s how the business and how the leadership respond to that failure that really is a good litmus test as to whether or not the organization really is truly going Agile.

A lot of these approaches are about empiricism. They’re about looking and trying something. One small change and being able to measure specifically whether that change had the impact you intended.

And if not, then how do we adapt?

A lot of organizations nowadays are very, very much under the gun to deliver. They count the number of stories delivered or the number of story points delivered. That’s their measure for success.

But these numbers don’t talk about delivering value. What companies should be doing is measuring the actual value that’s delivered and that can take a lot of patience.

That’s the beauty of Kanban: the fact that it doesn’t require wholesale change to your organization. You start with what you have. You find those specific places in the system where you’re experiencing pain. Then, you come up those small measurable changes that you can make quickly and easily rather than wholesale changes.

You don’t need brand new processes or a brand new roles that people are going to be very hesitant to adopt. A lot of the organizations that are going Agile nowadays are realizing the consequences of making these wholesale changes.

Not that disruption is bad.

Sometimes disruption is necessary. It depends on the environment you’re in. It depends on what you’re trying to achieve and where you’re trying to get.

But disruption can be terribly impactful and even detrimental to your organization if it’s not something that’s going to give you benefit.

A lot of organizations have now realized that it’s better to make one small change, to try that change and then incrementally change the system as we go, rather than make these whole scale changes.

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Berteig Consulting

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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