Reshaping our View of Agile Transformation

We didn't intentionally plan our way into a situation that warrants an agile transformation. We need to undo the damage through small, consistent interventions over time.
April 21, 2017
Jason is the author of Lean Change Management and founder of the Lean Change Management Association and Spark the Change Toronto
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Version One recently released their 11th annual State of Agile Development survey results. This survey asks people why their organizations are trying agile, what methods/tools/processes are they using, and where they’re getting stuck.

Over the last 10 years, the barriers have remained more or less the same:

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 7.18.26 AM

These barriers are not ‘agile problems’, yet we still cling to our linear change models, and fall into the trap of trying to manage transformations the same way we manage an infrastructure project for moving a bunch of printers.

I recently published an article for Better Software magazine and you can read it on Sticky Minds about how we could look at transformation differently by taking inspiration from how social change happens.

Read the article

Read the article

Watch the Agile Montreal Keynote

This was also the topic for a keynote I delivered for Agile Montreal last November.


  1. Patrick Verdonk

    Jason, ‘failure to change culture’ and ‘lack of management support’ barriers seem to grow in the past few years and are higher than ever. You think there’s any identifiable reasons for that?

    • Jason Little

      I think the survey results mimic the hot topics of the time. ‘Culture models’ was a hot topic in agile a couple of years ago (Schneider, Competing Values, or OCAI, ‘teal’ etc) and I think since then, more mainstream sites (, Forbes etc) have talked about why culture is important. Since it’s talked about more, I believe the people that said ‘culture was the biggest impediment’ are mostly parroting what they read, or have been convinced that’s the problem they see.

      It’s pretty easy to blame culture, management and leadership, or resistance to change, but all of them more or less equate to “I don’t really know why it didn’t work…it just didn’t and we need to blame something/someone for it!”

    • Mike Leber

      Nailing it down, to me it sounds like lack of mutual respect, understanding and agreement at the root. Just rolling out Agile methods and practices lack these elements a lot and often. So, why wondering, it doesn’t work … at least not the way, it could have …

  2. davidakoontz

    Nice line of inquiry… I’ve quit using the Transformation word to describe what some people desire others would do… seems like the wrong word. In that line of inquiry I looked at the use of the butterfly image. Let’s call it a desire for the butterfly effect… that with just a little tipping point we could cause a transformation. Yeah – aint goin happen. The caterpillar puts on lots of fat before making a chrysalis. And then uses over 50% of it’s stored energy in the metamorphosis to butterfly – all for a very short lifecycle as the butterfly. Name a corporation that truly wants that?

    Pondering is transformation the word that we should be using…

    Here’s another analogy…. A speaker that was never remembered for the purpose… and the small remark that continues to be recalled.
    Is this what will become of the Agile movement?


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