Agile organizational transformation

Moving from a “predict and control” to a “sense and respond” mindset

« Agile organizations are different. Traditional organizations are built around a static, siloed, structural hierarchy, whereas agile organizations are characterized as a network of teams operating in rapid learning and decision-making cycles. Traditional organizations place their governance bodies at their apex, and decision rights flow down the hierarchy; conversely, agile organizations instill a common purpose and use new data to give decision rights to the teams closest to the information. An agile organization can ideally combine velocity and adaptability with stability and efficiency. »

The journey to an agile organization,, May 2019

We have already implemented an agile framework*, aren’t we already transformed?

The words « agile » and « transformation » can mean different things for different people. We make an important distinction between adopting a new methodology and actually being transformed.

We feel that a transformation has occurred when the new behaviours and the new ways of working remain the default choice even during emergencies. Once people no longer revert back to their old ways of doing things and constantly demonstrate the new behaviours even under duress, we can say a transformation has taken place.

By opposition, when an organization only adopts certain simple elements of agile or looks for ways around the new methods, we can’t pretend there has been a transformation – we often see fake agile.

* Scrum, SAFe, LeSS, DaD and Nexus are among the most popular frameworks.

Agile culture = Agile (Mindset + Behaviours + Practices)

Rather than working on implementing a new methodology, we first work on transforming the mindset and the behaviours that will then support the adoption of agile practices and methods. An agile mindset is a set of attitudes such as respect, collaboration, improvement and learning cycles, pride in ownership, focus on delivering value, and the ability to adapt to change. This new mindset is necessary to cultivate high-performing teams, who in turn deliver amazing value for their customers. Below are examples of mindset shifts completed with some of our clients:

Mindset Shift #1

Mindset shift from To


  • The world is stable enough to allow the organization to look forward in order to anticipate the future and turn this information into predictions, objectives and forecasts.
  • The organization then implements processes, systems and structures to coordinate. monitor and maintain actions in order to achieve the predictions.
  • Success is defined as meeting or exceeding the initial predictions.
  • Variance from the objectives or the forecasts is perceived as failure and may be interpreted as a sign of incompetence.
  • Extensive efforts are invested into analysis and risk mitigations.
  • Energy is invested in reporting progress and variances justification.


  • The world is defined as a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) and therefore cannot be predicted.
  • The organization develops the capabilities to rapidly and efficiently adapt to changing conditions.
  • Structures and processes are flexible in order not to limit the organization’s ability to react.
  • Targets are useful but too limiting. The organization prefers to capture emerging opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls rather than maintain status quo.
  • Inability to react quickly enough is perceived as failure and represents an opportunity to continuously improve and innovate.
  • Bureaucracy, over-analysis and extensive reporting are impediments to the success of the organization.
  • Technology is an enabler.

Mindset Shift #2

Mindset shift from To

The organization is a machine. Employees are considered cogs of the machine.

  • People are effectively interchangeable resources.
  • The underlying worldview is that workers are not paid to think, but to execute their work.
  • They must be supervised and told what is expected of them. Money is their main motivator.
  • Consequently, employees got used to being told what to do. They have a hard time taking a step back, making decisions and proposing solutions.
  • The organization strives for stability and predictability.
  • Management relies on « command and control » or « predict and control » to achieve results.
  • Control is maintained through compliance to rules, procedures and authority.
  • There is an « us versus them » mentality between teams and departments that leads to silos.

The organization is a living organism. Employees are living cells.

  • People are naturally motivated by their work when it makes sense to them and respects their core values.
  • People have good intentions. They are basically good, reliable, intelligent, trustworthy, creative and capable of making the right decisions.
  • Teams do not belong to their leaders. The latter are at the service of their team. The main contribution of leaders is to develop new leaders.
  • Leaders are performance accelerators when their actions are consistent with their words.
  • Collective intelligence is superior to individual intelligence.
  • Self-organizing teams take advantage of individuals’ intrinsic motivation to produce better results.
  • The organization develops the capabilities to adapt to a constantly changing environment.

« A traditional (industrial) approach to becoming more Agile commonly creates no more than an illusion of agility. »

The illusion of agility (what most Agile transformations end up delivering), Gunther Verheyen, Jan. 2019

What are the steps of an agile organizational transformation?

An agile transformation is an iterative process. Every organization is different and there are no recipes to successfully complete a transformation. Therefore, we use a flexible framework to organize our actions and establish a high-level plan of action and as the saying goes “no plan survives contact with the enemy“. Consequently, in an agile fashion we constantly adapt our approach in order to successfully and efficiently guide the organization through its transformation process.