Agile Transformation Explained

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Agile Transformation Explained
We explain an Agile Transformation. Traditional organisations are built around siloes and structural hierarchy to withstand unexpected changes in the market place. Agile organisations on the other hand are made up of teams throughout the organisation.

An Agile Transformation changes the way a company is run.  It’s steeped in changing the way people think it should be run and how they operate within their business.    While every Agile Transformation is different, based on a needs analysis – broadly speaking it’s about a adopting a new approach.

Although an Agile Transformation is more than just adopting agile ways of working. It is about changing the culture and mindset of your organisation.

The goal is not just doing agile but also being agile


As our principal, Caitilin Studdert, in Sydney says, “Agile transformation is changing the business to operate with new ways of working to be more responsive to change.

Traditional organisations are built around siloes and structural hierarchy to withstand unexpected changes in the market place. Agile organisations on the other hand are made up of teams throughout the organisation.

These teams operate in rapid learning and decision-making cycles that will better weather the constant change in the marketplace,” explains Sean Woon, managing director of TRIBE.

Typically when organisations talk about an “Agile Transformation” they are looking to improve/address weakness in several areas. These include alignment, transparency, prioritisation and empowerment. The aim is to become faster and more responsive.

Steve Walton, one of our principals, takes us through three areas. Organisations must take action in these, if they want to achieve their aims.

1 Move the culture –

Much of Agile is about mindset, how people approach problems and work with each other. For real change, everyone needs to adopt what we call a growth mindset. One where people are open to new things and seek ways to learn from their experiences.

2 Organise around what needs to be done –

The priorities of the organisation must be understood, and then people organised in a way to minimise work handovers. Collaborative teams that have everyone required to get the work done are aligned to common outcomes.

3 Align and share –

When most people think of Agile, they imagine columns of post-it notes on walls. Or people standing up having short meetings at the start of the day. Adopting those types of practices does not make you or your organisation Agile, however, when done with a purpose, can help you BE AGILE. So how does an organisation take these actions to “Transform”?


Transformation literally means change – to transform from one thing to another… so the first thing to determine is why do we need to change? What is driving the necessity for change?  

Once we have defined the purpose, we figure out what value we need to deliver to the business with our new way of working and try to design accordingly.

Transformation isn’t just about changing the structure of the organisation, it is working out how the business can be better focused on what we’re trying to achieve (alignment) , how we’ll prioritise, and what capabilities we’ll need to drive the business forward in the future,” says Caitilin.


So how does an organisation take these actions to “Transform”?

Every organisation will approach it differently. There is no one answer, as every organisation has a different starting point, target outcome and culture.

Caitilin says, “Typically it means changing from large, siloed, functional teams to drive greater value in smaller cross functional teams more aligned to the customer journey or strategic objective of the company.”

Sean explains further, “Traditional organisations typically centralise decision making at the apex of their structure, while agile organisations foster empowerment to their teams to make decisions as it is the teams that are closest to the key data and information required to achieve their set missions.

ADAPTOVATE recommends a four-stage approach, based on our independent needs analysis undertaken with the organisation.

ASSESS – Understand how things work now, what will help you move forward and what areas need to be addressed to enable the required changes.

DESIGN – To transform you need to both organise the people and agree on how you are going to work together. A good starting point to organising people is to understand how customers interact with your organisation and structure around those flows of value. To understand how to work together, you need to agree on the rhythms and routines where people will plan, align, get feedback and reflect on their progress.

IMPLEMENT – This phase involves training people in the new ways of working from leaders to the people who do the work. It also involves organising people into teams. And ensuring they have a good understanding of the work to be done.

SUSTAIN – Change takes time. In order to iterate the design and help the organisation self tune, it is recommended that Agile coaches continue to work with the teams for a period of time.


“To be successful in an agile transformation is challenging,” says Sean.

It requires a fundamental change to traditional organisations’ operating models, behaviours, and values.

“Getting it right however, organisations will see benefits in higher velocity and adaptability, higher employee engagement and learnings, and continuous improvement contributing to greater efficiency.

These are outcomes that will help organisations to better service their customers, innovate and compete,” says Sean.

By helping organisations transition from their traditional ways of working to a more agile approach, “they can deliver value iteratively, reduce risk, deliver faster to the market and become customer-centric,” explains Benny Ko, consultant in Melbourne.

We’d like to thank the contributors to this article:
Benny Ko – consultant at ADAPTOVATE
Caitilin Studdert – principal at ADAPTOVATE
Steve Walton – principal at ADAPTOVATE
Sean Woon – managing director at TRIBE



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