The Agile Tunnel Vision 

Agile Frameworks Are Dead

“Agility” was never designed to help organizations adapt to changing market conditions. Google search as a simplified analysis shows 46.700.000 results for “Agile failure” which doubled in the last two years. On the contrary, the search results for “Waterfall failure” decreased significantly. However, the waterfall approach was bedevilled, and obscure hybrid models, agile waterfall and who knows what became part of the game. This simple search validates as clearly as daylight that “Agile” is somehow problematic.

What we experienced with our customers is that the team-first approach as a guiding principle of one size fits all “Agility” results in an organizational sociologically pathological phenomenon. One of the triggers is the false myth that if knowledge workers are given more freedom and control of the process, they will come up with increased acceleration, far more advanced, and far more productive. Statistics are always difficult to interpret though the range of failed agile transformation is between 43% to 95% and this fact alone validates the uncertainty in using agile frameworks. 

Dual Operating Organizational Systems

Approaching one-size-fits-all change models leads to no escape from metastability. Also, operating with dual organizational systems inevitably results in deterministic causality straitjackets. Furthermore, by adopting these organizational change structures a bivariate correlation of “new structures” and “old structures” increases unpredictability, waiting times, unclear accountability, risk, and costs. Sadly, those artificial pattern originates the so-cold Buridan’s paradox of metastability with undesired business outcomes. Another critical pattern is the pretended notion that by applying a one-size-fits-all agile framework, a way of thinking “agile” in organisations was even possible. It is an illusory expectation that those frameworks would lead to a newborn mindset. 

These artificial dual operating systems get designed alongside the line organisations with their job descriptions, hierarchies, performance contracts, engineering models and cultural values. Hurdles are reprogrammed because, for many technology-driven enterprises, industrial standards are not compatible with such agile frameworks. 

Consequently, the change system behaviour is like dandelion seeds – the change will take time, costs will spread, and development transaction costs will increase. Even worse market disruptions are not intercepted from agile change frameworks. We define it as a bureaucratic teleological change model.

Covid 19 validated successfully the self-power of companies 

When the Covid-19 pandemic paralyzed the world, the corporate world was baffled by the extraordinary degree of uncertainty, complex economic consequences and ever-changing customer expectations. These circumstances pushed most organizations into survival mode and forced them to increase their digital touchpoints to stay connected with their customers. With speed to market being key, organizations needed the fastest and shortest way of delivering products and services to their customers. The opportunity is to look for competitive advantages in new ways of working, like the disciplines of product management, that can bring advantages into the company structures. Another example is ransomware attacks. Those are solved only by the self-power of enterprises. Such business punches force companies to focus on their capability to refactor safely and pragmatically back into an organization that can keep and create customers. 

In the end, the valid question is – why on earth are these one-size-fits-all frameworks so popular? Long-established consultancies are promoting and selling bright and shiny three fundamental expectations of executives to choose agile framework changes 

• Firstly, introducing a dual system as the saviour of transforming the entire enterprise into high performing product-centric organization.

• Secondly, one-size-fits-all thinking is seen as a solution to accelerate product market entry.

• Thirdly, those approaches are inadvertently sold as organisational scaling approaches.

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