The intersection of Agile and Change Management is a trending topic, but questions remain about how, exactly, they fit together. As it turns out, there are a variety of ways they can relate. To shed some light on the convergence of Agile and Change Management, we’ve identified three applications of this unique partnership that can benefit your team or organization.


In the first of our 3-part blog series, we explored the relationship of Change Management applied to Agile execution. Using our own case study within the health care industry, we outlined how to integrate the two methodologies effectively.


In the second installment of our series, we considered how organizational change can leverage Agile theory and methods. Each organization is a complicated web of roles, processes, values, communications and assumptions, and changing an organization’s culture is one of the most challenging and ambiguous goals leaders can undertake.


In this third and final installment of our series, we delve into what it takes for an organization to achieve full Agile transformation and how Change Management can be leveraged.

When a company wants to transition from a more traditional “waterfall” approach to Agile, oftentimes it will strive to alter only one or two elements instead of instituting a large-scale change. This can result in a disjointed effort and a high possibility that the transformation does not realize the intended benefits. A holistic approach that transforms an entire organization to Agile Scrum is much more likely to yield concrete measures of success, such as increased competitiveness or reduced development costs. Given that a complete transition requires a large investment by leadership in time, budget and resources, how do you ensure that those benefits will be captured?

A robust Change Management approach can mitigate potential pitfalls of large scale transformation, increase employee adoption and set up clear KPIs that can be accurately tracked throughout the implementation process. Our recommended approach consists of these key factors:

1. create a holistic vision  

A strategic vision for change is more than a well-articulated objective statement or flawless communication document. It tells a compelling story about the new reality it will help create and how the change will influence stakeholders. Many successful leaders use personal anecdotes and other modes of storytelling to paint an inspired picture. A strategic vision also answers critical questions: What opportunities will the new initiative realize? How will it exceed customer expectations? How will it enable you to be better, faster and smarter as an organization? In addition to linking the initiative to measurable business objectives, an effective strategic vision applies an “outside-in” perspective to understand what customers and stakeholders will experience in the new reality. 

To achieve this vision, a change leader needs to be fully in tune with stakeholder needs, organizational culture, and the current state of operations. These can determine the existing Agile maturity level of the organization, and the team, and create a current vs. future action plan.

2. build a team that can get it done

As a first step to any large-scale change, building an implementation team is critical. Find individuals with both institutional and tribal influence to help further the transformation. When forming the team, thought should be given not just to the immediate execution needs but also to how the change will be supported into the future. How will organizational socialization take place? How will new teams and employees be educated on organizational processes and procedures? How will project resourcing take place in this new model? In many cases, a centralized group or team is established or repurposed to support ongoing operations and portfolio visibility. 

One of the most difficult tasks during team formation in an Agile transformation is the actual project planning transformation: running the project in Agile. To test, iterate, plan, and disseminate, the team could organize the transformation as an Agile project as the first step to demonstrate success and manage expectations. 

3. cULTIVATE a change resilient culture

Agile is more than just a set of processes and procedures. It ultimately creates a new operating environment for the entire organization. It’s important to plan ahead for how transforming to an Agile environment will affect the organizational culture. Establishing a change resilient culture is essential to remain adaptable in today’s business environment. While overall company culture might be established through wider mission and vision statements, culture also exists on a micro level. Key differences may impact resilience to change on both large and small scales. Where are your cultural hubs? Are they embedded teams, geographic locations, or verticals? How do cultural norms and values vary by group?

Once you have identified any micro-cultures, ensure that the plan for engagement is thorough and creates a model to build a coalition of change agents. Representatives from each cultural segment can also help identify nuances in process, tweak procedures, and eliminate waste. With these considerations in mind, transforming to Agile will help you fail faster, receive quicker inputs from stakeholders, and build a culture of continuous improvement. 

Going through a change and need some expert TLC? Learn more about our Change Management practice here.

Moving from Waterfall to Agile? Learn more from our Agile experts here.