Adopting Agile Isn’t About Adopting Agile

3 min readMar 22, 2024

Written By LeadingAgile

Nobody sets out to adopt agile just to adopt agile. Companies invest in agile because they think it will help them solve a business problem. They hope Agile will help the delivery teams work more efficiently, decrease defects, or provide a more collaborative working environment.

But many times, when the rubber meets the road, agile gets relegated to another thing the teams do. It’s seen merely as a set of practices, ceremonies, and artifacts that improve team cohesion and morale and provide local improvements to things like throughput and velocity. Still, agile often doesn’t make the big splash it intended. It doesn’t impact the bottom line and struggles to affect any real change in the organization’s ability to improve the customer experience.

But why?

The reality is that agile is more than a way of working at the team level; to unleash its true potential, you must remove the things inside the organization that get in the way of agile. Your delivery teams will only be as agile as the dependencies and organizational impediments surrounding them will allow them to be. And while agile is excellent at breaking intra-team dependencies, what happens when the things getting in the way of agile are outside the teams’ sphere of influence?

Funding models, compliance and security, and technology are just some of the things that need to change for agile to work at scale. But all those have entrenched processes and systems of their own that can’t easily change. The teams will need help from those with the power and influence to help. However, the executives inside your organization who can clear the way for agile need a good reason to spend the time, effort, resources, and political capital required to do that.

Just telling them the teams want to do agile isn’t good enough. Just saying that we need you to take a chance on it and let agility emerge over time isn’t good enough. You must be able to tie the agile activities back to something that executives care about.

So, what do they care about?

In our experience, executives want to solve one or more of the following business drivers:

Some executives value some drivers more than others, while others eventually want to see gains in all six areas. Regardless, it’s essential to understand what your executives value and what your organization is trying to achieve before you set out on an agile transformation journey.

Knowing why you’re adopting agile helps you create a business case for its existence and gives you something to anchor your conversations with executives on. Of course, you’ll need to demonstrate how the activities at the team level roll up into the business case. However, effectively communicating how agile is helping your executives achieve their strategic business goals is how you build consensus with upper management and the C-Suite. It’s how you convince them to participate in the transformation, it’s how you get them to help clear the way for agile, and how you ultimately unlock the promises of agile to take your business to the next level of agility.

Originally published at on March 22, 2024.