Introduce Agile in A Company

2018 09 01 head

First teams have successfully used Scrum to develop applications. The news spread out and everybody wants to apply Scrum. It is time to introduce enterprise-wide Agile with Scrum or Kanban or XP.

Your Company wants to introduce Enterprise Agility in their product development, quality assurance and sales departments. The company as a whole shall transition to an agile organization and all teams shall adopt Scrum.

Try the Shu Ha Ri approach for such a change process.

Based on our exhaustive experience, we recommend starting with a set of workshops with the goal of defining a tailored approach to adapt the structure and processes of the company and introduce enterprise agile.

These workshops provide the platform to identify the company’s needs and strategic goals, and gather support from all participants. Try the open space format to involve all collaborators and identify their needs.

Below, we provide an approach which must be later tailored to the specific needs of the Company during the above-mentioned workshops. The organizational needs for feature oriented planning and development of an application portfolio should be considered.


We work with the Shu Ha Ri agile approach when introducing enterprise agile in the Company. All collaborators will progress from the novice level through the proficient level before reaching the expert level. You can also use the agile fluency model if you prefer.

This model also maps very well to the “Awareness – Desire – Knowledge – Ability – Reinforcement “or ADFAR model. The Company has already reached awareness and desire level because they want to introduce enterprise agile. We describe below the activities for the development organization consisting of software development, product management and quality insurance departments, and the activities at company level.

Development Organization

Shu - Novice Level - Learn the Rules

The duration of the novice level is at least six months. The major activities are to align the collaborators and provide the needed knowledge through training and hands-on exercises. Extensive training is aligned with experiences and industrial best practices.

All collaborators shall attend an introduction to agile and Scrum approaches. All technical collaborators shall attend the Scrum - Master or Developer - training. Each group of technical collaborators will learn specific techniques and skills necessary to work effectively in an agile product environment.

The agile coaches have two roles. First, they facilitate and support the teams to implement all meetings, artifacts, and rules of the Scrum approach. Second, they train the team members how to use learnt techniques such as clean code, pair programming, pair check-in, agile architecture, requirements elicitation, test driven development, agile quality assurance, acceptance test driven development, continuous integration, deployment and delivery.

After the initial training, the coaches ensure that this knowledge and ground rules are applied in daily activities.

Developer Business Analyst / PO SM / PL / Line Manager Quality Manager / Tester Others

Agile and Scrum Introduction(1 day)

Scrum Master (2 days)

Product Owner (2 days)

  • agile and clean developer

  • TDD

  • ATTD

  • Agile Development Game

  • DVCS – Git –

  • Legacy code refactoring

  • Clean Code

  • Agile architecture and patterns such as an inversion of Control

  • Agile Requirement Management

  • Lean Startup

  • Lean UX

  • Design Thinking

  • ATDD

  • Agile Leadership

  • Advanced Lean

  • Agile Quality

  • Soft skills – coaching, mentoring -

  • Agile Quality Management

  • ATDD

  • Move them to a Scrum team


~ 20 days

~ 10 days

8 days

8 days

1 day

We recommend

  1. An Agile (eXtreme Programming techniques) and Scrum coach responsible for two to three Scrum teams.

  2. Coach of coaches for the growth of internal agile and Scrum coaches for the company.

Ha – Proficient Level - “Bend the Rules”

The duration of the “proficient level” will be up to two years. The goal is to reinforce the learning techniques and become proficient in using them. The motto is

Most difficulties in Scrum do not arise from learning the Scrum framework. Rather, they arise in applying the framework on an existing organizational structure and culture.

This requires hands-on experienced guidance, and not just at the team level, but at the leadership and organizational level. See below the discussion about enterprise transformation.

We recommend

  1. An Agile (eXtreme Programming techniques) and Scrum coach responsible for four to five Scrum teams.

  2. Two coaches of coaches for the growth of internal Scrum coaches for the company.

  3. Start to blend team coaching with company-wide changes. See below the chapter “Organization Transformation.”

  4. Workshops could be organized for selected products or teams to solve identified major impediments.

Ri – Expert Level - “Break the Rules”

The “expert level” will be reached earliest after two years. It is reasonable to state that not all collaborators will reach this level of expertise. The goal is to transfer ownership of the agile approaches to Company collaborators. The company will take over the responsibility to reinforce agile and Scrum activities and resolve newly identified impediments in products or at company level. The motto is

*Doing* agile is easy. Being agile is hard.

We recommend

  1. An Agile and Scrum coach responsible for six to eight Scrum teams. The internal coaches should start taking responsibilities

  2. A center of competence for the growth of internal Scrum coaches for the company.

Company Transformation

While teams implement Scrum, managers and leaders enable them. We work on cultural, organization, and process level to enable agility in the company.

Workshops with key managers will

  • Discuss the fact that the standard competencies of agile leadership and coaching – mentoring, facilitating, problem-solving, and conflict navigating – are essential to agile adoption, but simply not enough to sustain and grow agility within an organization. We find that the unique blend of combining senior internal leaders with experienced agile coaches provides an unprecedented learning environment for all.

  • Understand that most organizations adopt agile Outside-In - that means they start with a process change and expose organizational impediments. The problem is that most of the organizational impediments are driven from cultural values deep within the organization. The process changes rarely stick.

  • Identify an "Inside-Out" approach - that means we will start with the company culture. Just as understanding the personality of a person is a key to working effectively with that person, understanding the culture of an organization is critical to its success in adopting, and more importantly sustaining, agility.

  • Explore a number of organizational systems and structures which enable (or impede) agility at an organizational level. This approach sets the priority first to the culture, second to the structure and third to the processes of the company

We recommend

  1. Workshop with key managers as described above,

  2. One Coach at C-level,

  3. Transform the company one product line after the other, delay the broad deployment to have time to learn and improve.

  4. Study LeSS as a valuable approach. We strongly support LeSS as an ideal candidate for company-wide agile approach,

  5. Implement selected company-wide measures during the second phase of the change management process when the development department moves to a proficient level. Top managers must realize that cultural elements must first be modified before the structure and the processes of the company can be adapted.

  6. Be patient and do not lose your mojo.


Here a checklist example to reflect why and how to transform into an agile organization

  • Answer the question, “Why move to Agile?” This is important, as the reasons for attempting such a fundamental change should be well understood from both a quantitative and qualitative standpoint.

  • Understand the current business culture. Change is hard and there will be champions as well as potential saboteurs of the changes to come.

  • Spend time on the organization structure to understand how it helps or hinders the move to agile and lean.

  • Involve all levels of the business, including top level ‘C’ executives. Their sponsorship and support will be important.

  • Don’t neglect mid-level management as their support is vital to the success of the transformation.

  • Create a roadmap with the explicit understanding that it will change over time.

  • Don’t attempt to change everything. Pick an area where a win will be evident and beneficial.

  • Prefer narrow and deep change to broad and shallow approach.