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The Crux of Failed Agile Transformations: A Top-Down Dilemma

October 26, 2023

Ah, the age-old conundrum: why do so many agile transformations fail? It's not just a question of the past; it's as relevant today as it was in the early days of agile. The root of the issue? The very individuals tasked with the implementation are often sidelined during the decision-making process.

You see, when leadership decides on a direction without involving those who'll be doing the heavy lifting, resistance is inevitable. It's not just about the early transformations; it's a pattern we see time and time again. The folks at the coalface, those with the hands-on experience and insights, feel imposed upon. They think, "If only they'd asked, I'd have suggested something different." This sentiment echoes throughout organisations, whether it's an agile transformation, a digital shift, or any significant change.

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In traditional top-down, command-and-control models, decisions are made at the top, and everyone else is expected to follow suit. But here's the rub: in this context, those at the ground level often possess more information, understanding, and perhaps even skills. They should be at the heart of the decision-making process.

Initiatives like Open Space Agile and Open Space Beta have made strides in involving everyone in the organisation in decision-making. When everyone has a say, even if the final decision isn't precisely what they'd have chosen individually, they're more likely to support it. Their voice was heard, and that collective decision-making fosters a sense of ownership and commitment.

In essence, for agile transformations to succeed, we need to democratise and decentralise decision-making. Only then can we bridge the gap between those who decide and those who implement, ensuring a smoother, more effective transformation.

NKDAgility can help you.

These are the kinds of issues that lean-agile practitioners love and most folks hate, and if you find it a struggle to move from rules to principals, my team at NKDAgility can help you or help you find a consultant, coach, or trainer who can.

If you have issues that are undermining the effectiveness of your value delivery, it's especially important to find help as soon as you can and not wait!

Which you can do right now. You can request a free consultation with my team or sign up for one of our upcoming professional Scrum classes. Because you don't just need agility, you need Naked Agility.

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