Why organizations struggle with the adoption of Agile practices and what Modern Agile can do to help you

Willem-Jan Ageling
Jul 10, 2018 · 4 min read

“Manifesto for Agile Software Development.”

It says it right there. No doubt, the Manifesto exists to uncover better ways to develop software.

Why would Agile be about more than Software Development? Well, if you look at the items that the Manifesto values, you will already find some hints.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan” — Manifesto for Agile Software Development

Most organizations that have focused on the items on the right would need to make serious changes to allow the items on the left to be more valuable. To name a few:

  • The way to get budget might change
  • You might need to change the way you do audit
  • Stakeholders from outside software development may need to be aligned on the changed way of working
  • You might need to approach your customers differently

This list is not intended to be complete, but it is intended to show that the impact is not only at Software Development.

The Principles behind the Agile Manifesto tell us even more:

“Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.” — Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

This might lead to a new organizational structure. Business people and developers might have worked in different department. A shift towards working together on a daily basis may include a shift towards the same department.

“Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.” — Principles behind the Agile Manifesto


“The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.” — Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

Management might need to change their approach towards employees. In situations where top-down management was the norm Agile requires a shift in style because individuals are to be trusted to get the job done.

“Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.” — Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

When this isn’t an automatism within an organization, then this principle may have severe impact on that organization. It is impacted by HR policies and the company culture. What if working 40 hours a week is frowned upon? What will happen with the team trying to achieve a sustainable pace, who identify that a 40 hour working week is more effective for them?

“Just start with one team, start small”

Many people make the following statements:

  • Agile is for Software Development. Don’t make it a company wide thing.
  • You best can start Agile small, for example with one team

Sure, starting small with only one team can be a good idea. But for this team the same things need to be arranged. They will have to deal with changed customer relations, management approach, stakeholder management, organizational structure, to name a few. Even for a small team you will see that outside of Software Development there will be impact.

But suppose it turns out to be a success and you wish to extend it to other teams, you still need to enable this within the organization.

Agile can’t be a Software Development thing only.

“We are not going to change the rest of the company to support Agile Software Development”

This can imply two things: your organization does already have all prerequisites set to allow Agile Software Development. It can also imply that the organization is not willing to adjust to changes that are required for success. Many organizations SAY that they wish to adopt Agile, but many do not understand the consequences or do not wish to accept the consequences of it.

You can choose to ignore that Agile has impact outside of Software Development, but this simply means you probably will not be able to optimally make use of Agile. As a result you run a high risk to fail.

Modern Agile — Agile for the whole ecosystem of a company

Modern Agile is aiming at the whole ecosystem of an organization. The four principles of Modern Agile are applicable for anyone (managers, users, sales, operations, clients, to name a few) and therefore not only to software developers:

Modern Agile has two fundamental guiding principles centering around humans that can act as catalysts for change.

  • Make Safety a Prerequisite
  • Make People Awesome

On top of that the principles are crystal clear. They make you want to start with it right away!

It is as simple as asking the questions:

  • What aspects do we consider to be important for safety and awesomeness?
  • How are we doing on these principles? Looking at the aspects that we consider so important, how far are we from the level we wish to reach?
  • What can we do to reach this level of safety and awesomeness?

Modern Agile prevents you from making the false assumption that Agile is only for Software Development and as a result doesn’t have any impact on the rest of the organization/ecosystem. Additional benefits are that it has instantly recognizable and easy to use guiding principles. This is why I favor Modern Agile to help improve your organization over the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.

Did you like the article? Then it would be awesome if you’d clap 👏🏻. I am also very keen to learn what you think about this topic.

My twitter profile is https://twitter.com/WJAgeling

Agile Insights

Various perspectives on Agile

Willem-Jan Ageling

Written by

Interested in ways to work better together. I love the discussion with open-minded people.

Agile Insights

Various perspectives on Agile

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