Setting your Transformational Frames: The CEO’s Role in Identifying and Implementing Change for a New Future


The Triple Constraints of Traditional Project Planning

Leaders in a non-Agile organization typically believe that individuals are the unit of productivity. They try to optimize work by organizing around pools of expertise, and they think that the sum of all work parts will produce the aggregate solution. Leaders also believe they can effectively time slice Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).

  1. Scope is knowable in advance
  2. Work is estimable with precision
  3. People are fungible

The Importance of Addressing Underlying Leadership Beliefs

Align Beliefs to Enable Transformation

Frames are a way to look at the world and identify the beliefs that a person holds about the situation. Frames allow people to see the problem or opportunity in a new way and identify the steps needed to address it. Frames also allow people to communicate their ideas more effectively by providing a structure for their thoughts.

The Transformation Frames

Most organizations were built to optimize for individuals instead of teams, leading to decision-making paralysis and a lack of autonomy at scale. The systems always win, meaning that unless there’s the right system in place, the organization will be limited in what it can do. The Transformation Frames is a proven model for Business Agility that shifts organizational beliefs about how they work to enable better decision-making and autonomy at scale.

  1. Systems First
  2. The 3 Things
  3. The 3 Things at Scale
  4. Managing Change
  1. The Systems Principle: Systems get the results they’re designed to produce. Therefore, business agility starts with redesigning the system.
  2. The Leadership Principle: Leaders are primarily responsible for improving the system.
  3. The Capabilities Principle: Organize around capabilities because they are relatively stable.
  4. The Change Principle: Fearful people won’t try new things or take risks. Therefore, create an environment of trust and safety for people to adopt new ways of working.
  5. The “Call Our Shots” Principle: We can predict the value of Agile Transformation and deliver benefits that meet or exceed our predictions.
  1. The Teams Principle: The team is the unit of throughput.
  2. The Backlogs Principle: Every team must have only one source of work.
  3. The Working, Tested Product Principle: Working, tested product is the primary measure of progress.
  4. The Predictability Principle: Unless a team is predictable, nothing else matters.
  1. The Dependencies Principle: Dependencies kill Agility and therefore must be eliminated, encapsulated, or orchestrated.
  2. The Capabilities Principle: Teams organize around capabilities because they are relatively stable.


Studies and experience show that a cross-functional team works best with 5–7 people on the team. A delivery team encapsulates a business capability and has a single backlog of prioritized work. This Delivery Team creates optionality through stories from their backlog that maximize the amount of work not done to deliver value quickly, ensure stories align to strategic priorities and demonstrate progress frequently via working tested stories. This team follows the organizational standards for delivering working tested products.


No matter how many tiers an organization has, the following five categories of decisions exist to bind strategy to execution.

  1. Strategic Alignment
  2. Solution Vision
  3. Clarity and Capacity
  4. Execution
  5. Measure Effectiveness


Metrics are the way to measure the progress of the delivery organization. If there is one team, the measure of success is the value produced and given to the customer. Metrics can inform leaders when and if to pivot based on their business goals. Metrics help the teams expose the need for additional capacity based on their historical ability to deliver. This helps leaders and their teams decide where to use the money to create capacity. In a more complex system of teams, leaders need data to manage their organization measuring efforts working on the system and data to measure efforts working in the system. Metrics are used for good and not evil. Metrics are used to analyze the health of the hierarchy of the teams in the system to analyze and continuously improve that system. When metrics are used as part of a compensation plan, for example, there’s a side effect of people gaming the metrics and putting the individual or team goals ahead of the overall business goals.

  1. The Idealized Design Principle: Align the teams around a vision for the Transformation, one where all the current constraints are removed.
  2. Make The Change Principle: Use an iterative and incremental approach to build a pragmatic plan to move toward the end-state vision.
  3. Make The Change Stick Principle: Teams use metrics and assessments to continuously improve the health of the system.
  1. Become Predictable
  2. Make Smaller Bets
  3. Break Dependencies
  4. Increase Local Autonomy
  5. Invest to Learn

Using the Frames to Change Beliefs

Frames are a language that leaders use to change current beliefs. They provide a context for how the leader wants the organization to think about and model their thoughts in order to solve problems. Leaders need to be able to frame the problem in a way that is meaningful to their followers and then provide a solution that is framed in terms of what they want the organization to believe. This can be a difficult task, but it is essential for leading an organization through difficult times. To frame the vision, use metaphors, catchphrases, contrast, and stories.



The Path to Agile Transformation Starts Here |

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The Path to Agile Transformation Starts Here |