October 7, 2019

Practice Your Agile Transformation with a Kata (Whitepaper)

Imagine for a moment what frequently asked questions around agile transformations look like. Which questions do you hear most often as it seems agile transformation has been a hot topic lately? Here are a few FAQ’s which we encounter quite often: 

"How do I roll-out an Agile Transformation in my organization?"

"How long does it take to transform an organization to Agile?"

“Who is in charge of the Agile transformation?”

Agile Transformation Kata Poster
Complimentary Poster

Questions like that are understandable, as a company that is transitioning to agile, is most likely not familiar nor mature with Agile processes yet. Therefore, waterfall thinking creeps into the transformation process.  But just treating an agile transformation as a product or project is also problematic as an agile transformation is never really complete. The analogy of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly falls short, because there is no specific end-state in an agile transformation. We can establish and increase agility, but there is no finish line to cross. 

The need for the masterplan that provides details about time-line, costs and a person “in charge” is often requested by an executive team. An agile transformation is however, just by the sheer number of people it affects, very complex. Agile processes deal very well with complexity, so I was looking for an approach that is agile by nature and I could not find one.

Another problematic aspect of many transformations is that teams are being taught in agile processes like Scrum or Kanban, but the techniques and practices used for the transformation are still traditional.  Having a hero “transformer”,  that pulls all the strings and orchestrates them magically, does not fit with a self-organizing team culture.

Other concerns about agile processes are the desire for dedicated teams and continuation of work iteration by iteration. Based on my experience, transformations work is different compared to agile projects. Changes to teams over time is more useful and possible breaks in between Kata's are needed to apply common sense. 

To address the concerns above, we at Incrementor, were bundling our years of experience into an approach to help organizations with their agile transformation.  We were looking for patterns, agile tools and practices and reached out to the larger community of Professional Scrum Trainers and coaches. We learned that a Kata is the right vehicle for organizational change, as it needs to be practiced often, just like in martial arts. The practice can help small, medium and large organizations alike, regardless if they are distributed, co-located or type of industry.  The information and feedback we received has improved and confirmed the pattern but also showed us there is a big gap to close in our industry. Today we are releasing the first of its kind Agile Transformation Kata that aims to raise a conversation in organizations about:

  • Providing a pattern that can be executed iterative
  • Using techniques that fosters agility, leading by example
  • Linking the goals of the transformation to the Agile Manifesto
  • Connecting the goals and strategy of an organization to the Agile Transformation
  • Utilizing existing and proven tools as a foundation for success
  • Using evidence and clear measurable goals for decision making
  • Providing a consistent vocabulary for all participants. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Agile Transformation Kata, we have created a white paper to initiate a conversation about the a brand new approach to agile transformations. You can also pre-order your Kata Poster to make the Kata transparent. At our Kata site you can also ask for help in organizing a Kata in your company or stay informed about our training course to become an Agile Transformation Coach using the Kata. On the same Kata site, we are eager to hear back from you about the Kata itself. 

Our next free webinar is scheduled for 10/17 where I will also focus on this Kata and I will explain the steps, roles and artifacts of the pattern. You will also hear me speak about it during the Agile Power Week, where we host a series of Scrum.org certification courses followed by an open space in Munich end of October. 

We are thrilled to hear back from you about the Kata in action within your company and hope that it will boost and give new impulses for Agile Transformations around the world. We want to thank our extended community of agile coaches and trainers that gave us wonderful and encouraging feedback. Based on your feedback, we will continue to refine the Kata in the future, while keeping an eye on the universal application of the pattern. 

Connecting EBMgt with the ATK during a Masterclass in Amsterdam
@jochenkrebs connecting EBMgt with the ATK during a Masterclass at Agile Amsterdam