Surprising Downside Of Agile – Every Agilist Must Know


It won’t be an exaggeration to say that out of the millions of Agile practitioners, the majority is stuck at ‘doing agile’ while being unaware or worse ignoring the bigger picture. Why?

A simple reason – When you start zooming in a lot, it is not easy to zoom out. People are stuck in tit-bit practices that are also helpful but not rolling up to the bigger picture. They are following the ‘rules’ while losing the essence of the philosophy or the wisdom behind those rules.


What is this bigger picture when you pursue agility? Here is our understanding –

  • Are you moving continuously towards the right direction?
  • Could you frequently deliver just-enough but the most important things?
  • As an intrinsic part of your culture, are you embracing failure in your development process so that you do not need to fail when you go-live?
  • What do you mean by collaboration? Do you have a one-team mindset over safeguarding local interest and turf?

Individuals, teams, organizations start their pursuit of Agility with great excitement and enthusiasm, somewhat similar to a person starting his dream job. While we start with good intentions and motivation, we discover that transformation, like a dream job, is not a single player game. We hit roadblocks and re-evaluate our position. Few things might happen –

  • People are opinionated and not everyone could be pleased
  • There will always be resistance to change
  • Few things takes time but there is a demand to make it happen faster, patience is a rare virtue
  • Misplaced priorities – You wanted A but you end up spending a big chunk of your time on B and many other reasons.

At the same time, too much zoom out also leads to a problem of ending up with ‘surface-agile’ which is more like a lipstick job. We have all heard of ‘culture’ & ‘Mindset’ so many times at so many forums without proper explanation or lucid definitions of what it means. Any organization embarking on a new transformation journey needs to experience the ‘incremental’ improvements in time-bound intervals.

The correct way to adopt agile is to find an ultimate balance between the Micro and Macro where the agility can sustain. It’s important for the organization to have a pragmatic mix of both to move slowly, yet steadily towards the right direction to leverage ‘Agile’.

Here’s is how we think an organization should plan their transformation journey :

The surprising downsides of Agile - Inside blog
  • Understand and define the business reasons for Agile Adoption very clearly
  • Always get ‘outside-in’ view, no organization becomes agile by attending a few trainings & changing designations
  • You can not be somewhat ‘Agile’, be honest
  • Create buy-in at all levels, people don’t change mindset by being told to change mindset
  • Focus on creating small ‘pockets of excellence’ & share ‘success stories’ widely
  • Empower people to tell their stories & learn from each other
  • Encourage teams to continuously inspect and adapt
  • Have a long term strategic view and a short term tactical mindset
  • Don’t think and act in binaries. Multiple things can work at the same time, also same things need not necessarily work in different scenarios
  • Your unique solution will lie in marrying deep domain knowledge, agile mindset and a lot of common sense + empathy

Recommended Read

Agile Transformation Challenges How to Plan Agile Training for your team What Is Business Agility
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Agile Transformation Checklist How to scale agile using SAFe What is SAFe Transformation
Agile Transformation Metrics Scrum Master Do’S And Don’Ts Agile Metrics For Leadership
Agile Transformation Strategies Effective Sprint Planning with Steps Agile Project Management Tools

We would love to hear your experience and get feedback, drop us a mail at

Anuj M Ojha
Alok Dimri 

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