Interview with Madhur Kathuria

Madhur Kathuria has coached nearly 300 teams for almost 75 clients across the US, Europe, South East Asia, Malaysia and Thailand. In this interview he talks about some of the cultural challenges for agile adoption. Read it here.

Interview with Elena Yatzeck

Elena was Chief Agilist for JP Morgan Chase Treasury Services and is now a VP of Corporate Compliance Tech. Find out how JP Morgan Chase reconciles agile with compliance and risk management demands. Read it here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Top Impediments To Agile Transition

Management’s first inclination when transitioning to agile is to train development teams on agile methodologies such as Scrum, and to bring in agile coaches to help the teams to transition. While these are important steps – indeed critical steps – these are insufficient: they are analogous to giving the members of the US Congress training in conflict resolution in an effort to improve Congress’s function: better knowledge of conflict resolution is always helpful, but the systemic and deep rooted issues that are causing conflict will resist change unless they are dealt with head on – perhaps through major political or structural change.

In the article “Most Impediments Are Management Level - Not Team Level” we explained how most of the obstacles to realizing the agile vision in an organization are rooted in management level issues – from culture and skill set issues to policy and leadership issues – and if these are not dealt with then the development teams will find it almost impossible to function in an agile manner.

We thought it would be useful to draw a map of the common impediments. When drawing such a map, however, one must be careful to differentiate between immediate impediments and the root causes that drive the impediments. Those who are familiar with the “Five Whys” concept know that root causes often are systemic and rooted in culture and tacit behavior that is far removed from where the problem actually shows itself through some symptom or obstacle. The “first why” is merely the immediate cause of the symptom that is being identified as a problem or impediment.

The chart below illustrates many of the common impediments that show themselves during an agile transition. Notice that most of these impediments are management issues: that is, in a large traditional IT organization it takes management to solve them for the whole organization - i.e., management must change things in order to enable agile to operate.

The impediments in the chart are “first whys” – they are not root causes. In a future post I will delve into each of the impediments and examine the root causes.

As PDF: click here.


  1. Nice! I would add that you can avoid interrupting other non-agile end to end testing partners if you use virtualization (LISA, stubs, mocks, etc.) until it is a handy time for them to coordinate with you (for your step 7). And I would automate deployment and functional testing even earlier, if possible. :-)

  2. A step in right direction. I agree with the impediments but not entirely with the order. Test automation, Release planning, and reporting should be addressed in early stages. Also,
    The main constraint for the transition is still with understanding of Agile, the initial coaching is essential to make an organisation understand the transition issues. An Agile coach has to constantly keep focus on agile manifesto.

  3. I would add that you need to be willing to add, remove and/or change agile practices that do not work their team and their work. I've noticed far too many "agile" processes that are set in stone.