How Sustainable is your “Agile?” Transforming to Sustainable Organizational Agility

As many organizations are adopting more and more agile, a key question is emerging … how sustainable is agile in our organization? When the embedded agile coaches or consultants leave, will things go back to the way they were? How long will it take before agile becomes just empty rituals and checklists, like the other processes did? Will things go back to the way they were after our sponsor moves on? It is our experience that the sustainability of agile is deeply linked to how the organization “transforms” to agile. We know that transforming an organization to become more agile requires more than just process change. Rather, it requires a complete culture shift. Sustainable, effective agile transformations affect all the elements of culture such as, leadership style, leadership values, work structures, reward systems, processes, and of course the work habits of people. How to affect that culture shift is the key question we will discuss in the session. We will present two different common transformation approaches (organizational-led and process-led) and then describe a hybrid version called culture-led transformation that is designed to change critical organizational and personal habits to improve and sustain organizational agility.



Outline/Structure of the Talk

The session will have 3 parts. The first part is to explore different definitions of Agile (process, mindset, scrum …etc). I don’t intend on doing too deep in this topic but the main goal is to highlight that different people and organizations see agile as different things and that influences their agile adoption approach. If organizations see Agile as just a new IT process then that will greatly influence how the transformation will take place, where it will take place, and how sustainable it is.

The second part of the session is to explore the three transformation approaches (organizational-led, process-led, and culture-led). The goal is to do some lecturing just to explain the models and then to allow time for small groups to really dig deeper into each model and extract the benefits and challenges of each of them and then report out.

The realization will usually be that some hybrid between the three is ideal, and so the third section of the presentation will be ideas and practical suggestions on how to steer current transformations that are in-flight towards a sustainable model. To put the learning’s from this session into action, I will give each group a scenario of a real company that is planning their transformation. I would like people to look at it and be able to identify what approach they are taking and identify the potential pitfalls of that approach and then come-up with a suggested set of action to ensure that their transformation will be sustainable. 

Learning Outcome

Following the presentation, attendees will be able to define the elements of organizational agility and how to improve organizational agility through living the Agile Mindset.

Following the presentation, attendees will understand how to transform using a culture-based transformation approach.

Following the presentation, attendees will understand why improving organizational agility is realized by creating a common transformation journey

Target Audience

Change Agents, Executives

schedule Submitted 6 years ago

Public Feedback

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  • Ellen Grove
    By Ellen Grove  ~  6 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Ahmed

    There's a lot of interest in culture-hacking these days as experience increasingly shows that top-down or bottom-up approaches to transformation tend to be limited in their impact.

    Is this a talk or a workshop?  You describe some interactive elements but I'm not clear on where the balance is between you talking and the audience working together.  As a talk, 90 min is too long.  Perhaps you can describe the breakdown of the process in more detail?

    Also, are the models based primarily on theory or on real-life examples?  I think the contrast between the models may be more compelling if they can be illustrated by real-life  experiences.



    • Ahmed Sidky
      By Ahmed Sidky  ~  6 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Ellen,

      I would say it is more of an interactive talk. There are a number of points in the talk where I prompt the audience for a discussion. I have a 0.5 day and 1 day version of this as a workshop since it really takes time for people to design culture-led transfromational roadmaps. 

      As for the models - they are all based on very real life stories that and (and probably you) have experienced. I have detailed stories from fortune 100 companies to accompany each model and what worked and didn't work.

      I am open for a skype call if you want to learn more about this. Also I just gave this talk in Agile New England - once they have the video I can share it. 

  • Ram Srinivasan
    By Ram Srinivasan  ~  6 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hey Ahmed -

    Good to see your proposal here. Is this the same one which you showed me at Agile 2013 (I believe you are presenting this in Boston as well )? 


    • Ahmed Sidky
      By Ahmed Sidky  ~  6 years ago
      reply Reply

      Yes Ram this is the same (similar) presentation.