Managing Organizational Change as a Result of the Agile Process


we’ll discuss next.

In the real life example we used in the beginning, the art of writing a user story is so simple that it becomes enormously difficult for many. The reason is that people are accustomed to saying and writing more than is needed. There is a common need to explain things in painful detail, but when asked to describe what we mean in a concise and straightforward manner, it gives reason for pause to consider how we condense all our thoughts into one or two sentences. This is not easy, yet teaching agile change teams how to do this well has proven that acceleration in adoption is very high.

As an output of Business Value Modeling, you can see how writing user stories can have a common template and how each section would directly tie back to the business value model sections we defined.

  • TO:
    • lt;Describe the goal defined in the Business Value Modelgt;
  • AS A:
    • lt;List the stakeholder, the person/group accountable for this storygt;
  • I NEED:
    • lt;Define the capabilities needed to achieve the goalgt;
    • lt;List the criteria that will communicate the goal is achieved/donegt;

Perhaps this exercise seems simplistic, but well defined stories supported by well defined tasks, visually mapped so the organization can clearly see and understand the path to change, are the fundamental building block to the most successful agile change programs on record.

Training Agile Teams

The other important topic to address regarding managing organizational change programs through agile is training. By training, we mean education or learning doing. We don’t mean just sitting and listening so we can tick the box and say we went to training.

A common misconception with agile is that people can simply be sent to training once or infrequently and still be knowledgeable enough to do the work. The reason that traditional agile training has not had a long term and sustainable impact is that many organizations treat it as a point in time exercise rather than a culture of continuous learning. This approach lends itself to a lack of strategy for how the investment in training is spent and to a fragmented learning path for the team that is not cohesive or coherent.

Historically, some of the challenges with agile training are that it is not context sensitive or always practical and useful.

Change programs predicated on agile need a training curriculum and strategy that helps companies understanding the path to learning and doing. This curriculum would involve:

  • Assessing the organization’s overall skill levels
    • Benchmark skills according to roles, knowledge and experience using a framework of proven context-sensitive practices
    • Review competencies based on process, output and quality of work
    • Perform comparison with peer organisations
  • Scaling Agile Training beyond the classroom
    • Content
      • Experiential learning
      • Context aware
      • Practical
      • Different approaches that realize the same principle
      • Useful in real situations
      • Good basic understanding of values, principles, practices
  • Train people involved in the change program
    • Extended team (partners, vendors)
    • Executive, Senior and Middle management
    • Those in value stream (identified in the visual stream map)
    • Top down AND bottom up


We’ve discussed some specific and practical methods to use in order to kick-start and maintain momentum in an agile change program. The one thing we didn’t discuss is the tendency and temptation for people and teams to revert back to the old way of doing things.

My response to this when asked by executives and managers is to simply state that change starts at the top. While we all want to have a flat organization at times to avoid the challenges that come with hierarchy, the truth is that

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