10 dos and don’ts of agile transitions

10 dos and don’ts of agile transitions


Change is difficult. There is no doubting that an agile transition involves a significant change, which makes it challenging. In actuality, there has never been a smooth shift to agile. Performance has decreased after every agile change that has ever occurred, and this trend will continue in the future. As a result of years of research into transitions, we are aware of this. Visual representations of changes throughout time look like this:

Assuming that everything would gradually get better over time or that merging agile with waterfall approach to create a hybrid will offer you the best of both worlds is a common mistake made by novice IT workers. The term “wagile” refers to this alluring illusion.

Ten dos and don’ts have been compiled in order to aid you in your move to agile. Let’s start with a “don’t” since in order to succeed in any change, you must first let go of the old methods of doing things.

What you need to know and do

Tip #1: DON’T start with training

Sending development teams to agile training before starting the change is a typical error for many agile conversions. Although it is logical and responsible to teach people in a new methodology, doing so before they are truly prepared poses numerous issues. You run the danger of a stubborn team member sabotaging your upskilling efforts and demoralizing the whole group. Due to a lack of buy-in or context, it is also possible that your team will retain very little of the training. In fact, if training is given too soon, we predict that, at best, only 5-15% of it will be remembered. Since time and resources are limited, it’s critical to make the most of yours by giving your team training only after you’ve gotten their support for the change.

When you get to that point, spend money upgrading the team as a whole. Make formal training a team-wide priority even though many of them are already familiar with agile. It will bring your team’s terms and procedures into alignment, enhancing communication and reducing weaponization, and it will lay the groundwork for a smooth transition.

Tip #2: DO start with why

Understanding the necessity for the change is the most important stage in any successful shift. Each employee must be aware of the advantages agile brings and what it means to them personally. Leadership should initiate this widespread communication and lay out the benefits and expectations in detail. Agile can cause confusion and resistance if it is used incorrectly. When the change is made properly in the future, you might even see someone dig their heels in. Agile offers teams the opportunity to deliver and receive client feedback more quickly while giving those customers immediate partial value when used properly. In contrast, a waterfall project makes consumers wait months or even years to gain value, and the delivery frequently fails to satisfy the clients’ evolving needs. The fact that many firms can no longer survive by operating in the traditional (slow) manner is another reason to think about making the switch to agile.

Tip #3: DON’T ignore or allow negative behavior

Your agile transition will encounter some resistance, as with any significant change. Some people oppose change for the proper reasons—they don’t see how it will benefit them and think things should stay the same for the organization’s success. Others will object because they don’t want to put up the effort of learning something new, they don’t want to take the chance of failing, they don’t want to lose their standing as “experts,” they are terrified of the unknown, or there are a myriad of other reasons. As the leader, it is your duty to handle change opposition. Recognize defiant behavior and deal with it immediately. It can spread quickly, especially if the person thwarting your efforts is one of the team’s “best” players and someone others look up to. If necessary, you could even have to let go of some of your best employees if they won’t commit to agile.

Tip #4: DO help your team transition

Thankfully, the majority of individuals want to succeed and merely need direction as they transition to the new agile reality. Here, it’s crucial to pay attention to their worries. This cannot happen if leaders are constantly running from one meeting to another; accessibility and approachability are essential. It is your responsibility as the agile transition leader to foster an atmosphere that fosters enough trust and opportunity for employees to be candid about their worries and challenges. To lead the change, you must have leaders who are sympathetic and who have a solid understanding of the informal structure. Find win-win situations to address problems, however…

Tip #5: DON’T go backwards… ever

Every agile transition has a point where the organization’s commitment to the change is put to the test. Yes, it is simple to assign decision-making power when there is a sizable budget and success with the items. But what would happen if reality weren’t so utopian? When under duress, people typically fall back on their old habits, which sadly frequently still involve command and control management. The impulse to “take back control” should be resisted when a project or program is having problems. It may cause the agile transition to be delayed by several iterations and damage management’s reputation for being committed to its success, demoralizing the transformation’s most ardent backers.

Tip #6: DO slow down

When programs and projects run into trouble, trust the process and take advantage of the agile frameworks’ continuous improvement processes to figure out what isn’t working and improve things for the following iteration. Instead of assuming charge of the project, organizational leaders should follow the process and ensure that the necessary conditions, such as trust, extensive communication, and real time and money for continual development, are met. Although it may shorten the actual execution time, this step is crucial to the long-term success of your agile shift.

Tip #7: DON’T think you’re special

We haven’t yet encountered a company that begins an agile shift by assuming that things will be simple and standard. It’s a good thing that every business is diverse and has its own employees and procedures! You should take into account the fact that supporting frameworks already take this into account when looking at agile migrations. Instead of customizing your frameworks before your transition has even begun, start out of the box and then start customizing your agile implementation to your particular environment using the continuous improvement methods of your framework.

Tip #8: DO go all-in

You’ll probably come into a lot of circumstances during your agile journey where you’ll need to make concessions. Perhaps your vendors’ processes aren’t based on an agile framework, so you’ll need to deal with their waterfall delivery strategies. Or possibly the amount of decision-making authority you can delegate to the teams is subject to legal restrictions. Your agile transformation will have a poorer end result if its initial degree of ambition is minimal. Be as ambitious as you can in the beginning; nuances and trade-offs can be decided afterwards.

Tips #9 and #10: Enter and exit wagile quickly

You will undoubtedly enter an agile condition during your change. Try to get away from it as soon as you can, but don’t be naive and think you can avoid it. The worst of both worlds results from a team being stuck in a perpetual state of wagile, where they never truly let go of the waterfall process. Resistance will claim agile is failing while you are in it. Frustrated supporters will eventually give up. Agile, however, hasn’t really been applied to its full potential. You will be agile and adding value to your organization like never before if you heed the above suggestions to get out of the dreadful state of wagile.


One of the most challenging but essential duties you undertake to support your organization’s success in the current climate may be leading an agile transformation. You are prepared to create your plan, implement it, and get through the waile and adoption phases now that you are aware of the major dos and don’ts.

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By Master James

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