Patterns of Agile Adoption

  • the transition process.

There are of course drawbacks to the Public Display of Agility:

  • Announcing something before you do it can make you look foolish. Pointing to centerfield and then turning the next pitch into a home run over the centerfield fence is one thing; pointing to centerfield and then striking out on the next pitch is another.
  • Announcing your intentions before having moved very far toward them is a sure way to bring out the naysayers and their objections.

Organizations benefit from making deliberate decisions between Start Small and All In, Technical Practices First and Iterative First, and between Stealth Mode and Public Display of Affection. While I've seen all eight combinations result in successful transitions to agile, some combinations of patterns are used more frequently than others. Going All In, for example, is most commonly combined with Iterative First because of the complexity that would be involved in changing the technical practices of an organization all at once. By consciously considering these patterns of agile adoption and choosing carefully you will be able to improve your chances of a successful transition.


About the Author

Mike Cohn is the founder of Mountain Goat Software , an agile training and consulting firm. He is the author of Agile Estimating and Planning , User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development and an upcoming book on transitioning to agile development from which this article is drawn. Mike is a founding member of both the Agile Alliance and the Scrum Alliance.


[i] Jim Highsmith, Agile Software Development Ecosystems.

[ii] Steve Greene and Chris Fry, Large Scale Agile Transformation , Agile 2007. Available at

[iii] Chris Fry and Steve Greene, Big Bang Agile Transformation in an On-Demand World, Agile 2007. 

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