Organizational Change

Organizational change

Our organizational structures have been built to support waterfall way of working, the structure is often created with the assumption that you can plan years ahead and you can control plans and employees. It may work in traditional manufacturing, but even here we see Lean becoming more and more common where the companies involve the employees.


When you want your company to use Agile and harvest the benefits, it is not enough to just add the Agile rituals, you also need to add the principles and mindset, if you want to get full value from Agile, you need to create a “center of excellence” , a group of people who can roll out Agile in the organization and coordinate the changes on the journey. The real change happens when you address the psychologic elements and make Agile principles part of the company culture; there is only one slight problem, it is not that easy!


The change will most likely be different from company to company and changes will happen while you get Agile to work. Coming from a traditional organization might make you think that you can plan everything upfront and have milestones – my personal experience tells me that you cannot, you need some preparation, and you need education and communication about what is going to happen including the vision/goal and why!


Part of the preparation is to prepare the different part of the organization for the coming changes, i.e. if you create a Scrum team and a PO to work with a backlog, you also need to work with management and PMO, i.e. you do not want the situation that I had when I started at Sony, I was told that the teams was working with Scrum, but the remaining part of the organization did not acknowledge Agile, so we had to translate our sprint planning into Microsoft Project Management and deliver it to the PMO, a very awkward experience!


Another part of the preparation could be to work with the managers for the coming Scrum teams, in many organizations the managers are responsible for the product delivery, for innovation and quality, but if you want to work with Scrum, you delegate responsibility to the teams and empower them, this means that the responsibility moves away from the managers and becomes the responsibility of the PO and teams – one way to address this could be like SimCorp did, i.e. they split the manager position to 2 “new” positions, they needed Product Owners with product responsibility and no employee responsibility, and they needed leaders with employee responsibility, the leaders had up to 30 employees who they were coaching and working with. If you don’t make changes like this, you will risk that the managers interfere in the Scrum team’s plans.


Another part of the preparation could be to involve HR, we often forget to involve HR, so they get isolated and end up becoming counterproductive, you need HR in the field to observe and help, but before you do that, you probably need to give them some training; a classic challenge I have observed in my work as a SW developer and as an Agile coach is the traditional yearly evaluation of the employee, where the employee set targets and management evaluate their performance during the year – I have never seen this work well, most of the time, employees set targets that becomes obsolete during the year and employee evaluation is very subjective – when you introduce Scrum and team work, you probably do not want the team members to have individual goals and their managers should not only talk to them 1-2 times during the year – I strongly recommend that you as an Agile leader communicate with your employees at least every second week, listen and coach, secure that you help them to challenge themselves and become better.


If you agree that Agile means your organization becomes a learning organization, you should encourage this, i.e. at Spotify they created groups to share knowledge, a little like CoP, but with more focus on sharing knowledge and members who share the same interest, other companies have frequently “go home” meetings where internal and external speakers inspire others, we did this at Sony and we frequently had more people than allowed by fire authority, we also recorded the presentations and shared them on our Intranet…. This is not free, but the cost is very low compared if you look at what the company get back from inspired and happy employees.


There are many things that could or should be changed, but it is probably a better idea to do it as you identify the challenges – have an open mind and don’t push back with “this is how we always done it”, having people on board who have tried it before can also help to identify challenges early and suggest possible solutions – remember you have a learning organization, so what we do today may need to change tomorrow…



Agile Konsulenten ApS - Phone +45 3132 3941