Why are Agile Transformations not succeeding?

In the 14th annual State of Agile report from 2020, the vast majority of respondents (84%) said their organizations were below a high level of competency with Agile practices. We had similar experiences, although lots of money and energy is being spent on improving agility only about 5% of respondents reported actual greater adaptability. Why is this? Is it because of Agile? Is it because of people?

Transformation is hard and the stakes are high

Several of the hardest to achieve mental transitions are needed in an Agile Transformation.

  • New social circumstances and interactions through changing teams and organizational structures.
  • New skills and practices through changing roles and events.
  • New believes and mindset through changing objectives and paradigms.
No wonder people struggle!

Hard high stake games are not played without practice

Why do professional basketball players practise gameplays endlessly? Why do Navy Seals go on extensive exercises before being operational? Why do musicians practise days on end before a recital? Because stakes are high and it’s hard. So why do we throw our organisations off the deep end when it comes to Agile Transformations? We know it’s hard! We know the stakes are high! Don’t we need practise? When things are hard and stakes are high but we don’t practice, we will fake it and fail.


Practice by simulation in safe but realistic environments

Basketball players don’t practise with smaller balls or lower rings. Navy Seals exercises in real though circumstances, they just remove the live ammunition. Musicians practise with their orchestra and instruments preferably in the venue itself just minus the audience. As close as possible to the real thing but with lower stakes.

LEAT: Learning Experiential Agile Transformation

This is at the core of LEAT® lower the stakes to create the safe circumstances and practise as close as possible to the real thing. Practice with your team, with your department or your organisation, because stakes are high and Agile Transformation is hard. 


LEGO® as content but your real AWoW as context

LEAT® lowers the stakes by using LEGO® and SERIOUS PLAY® to introduce a safe medium disconnected from the day to day life of your organisation. Unlike most other training programs LEAT® incorporates all the dynamics of your Agile way of working. The most important framework elements are extensively and iteratively practised within the real team and organisational settings. People practice their future roles and responsibilities using the events and artefacts as intended. 

Kolb's experiential learning cycle: Doing - Experience - Reflection - Adjustment

But thats not all, as with most innovations several fundamental elements came together to create a synergy bigger than sum of it’s parts. True to the nature of Agile we use short iterations to build up the course. Perfectly inline with Kolb’s experiential learning cycle of Doing – Experience – Reflection – Adjustment to optimally internalise the learning. 

Tactile micro learning

There are several barriers to effective learning. The number of objects an average human can hold in short-term memory is 7 ± 2 (Miller’s law). Experts also found that the human attention rate has declined from 12 seconds in 2000 to only 8.25 seconds in 2015. Breaking the information down into topical, bite-sized chunks helps to increase attention and promotes higher retention rates. Research shows that microlearning can result in significant increase of exam pass rates (up to 18%). The short iterations in LEAT® do just that.

Touch activates areas of the brain that are essential in longterm memory activation. With the LEGO® exercise where we bring theory in to practise we increase learning retention dramatically.


Facilitator workshop for Agile coaches and Scrum Masters

In 2020 we created a new way of experiential training for the Agile transformation of one of our clients. It was a huge success due to several factors! When we told other Agile coaches about it they instantly understood the value of being able to test your Agile Transformation while learning and teaching it. Therefore we decide to share our experience, knowledge, methodology and created LEAT®. The entire program is now available as a facilitator workshop for Scrum Masters and Agile coaches to start your own LEAT journey with your clients and in your organisation. LEAT® will provide you with experiential building blocks specifically created for Agile Transformation that you can use in bite-size retro activities or combine into complete transformational multi-day workshops.

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