Written by Kevin Heisey
on February 23, 2022

Successfully scaling Agility across an enterprise can lead to great results. According to McKinsey findings, organizations that scale Agile show 20-30 percent increases in financial performance, 30-50 percent increases in operational performance and significant boosts in both customer satisfaction and employee engagement. In concept, the results aren’t surprising. Enterprise Agility allows organizations to respond to competitive pressure, quickly adapt to market shifts and seize opportunities while reducing costs. An Agile enterprise responds rapidly to customer needs through efficient execution, greater productivity and empowered teams.

However, Apptio reports that in 2021 only one in five organizations had implemented an enterprise Agile framework. While the payoff is clear, the road to Enterprise Agility presents challenges. How do you get various corporate functions to both embrace Agility within their teams, but also engage with other teams across the enterprise in an Agile manner? Business and IT must work in alignment. Accountants must budget and Auditors must audit for Product teams that are driven by customer needs rather than timelines and budgets. Adopting Agile across the enterprise often means massive change for an organization’s processes, people and technology and that change brings challenges.

Four Challenges to Scaling Agile

  1. Organizational Culture and Resistance to Change

Transitioning to Agile involves new ways of organizing people, processes and technologies and requires a thoughtful Organizational Change Management approach to combat inertia, break down silos and get top-down and bottom-up buy-in. Highlighting and communicating early successes within the organization can provide examples and generate momentum.

  1. Inconsistencies in Agile Processes and Practices Across Teams

In 2022, many organizations are well into their Agile transformation journey. As they try to scale Agile, they are finding different Agile processes and practices have taken root in different parts of the organization. For Agile to scale across the organization, disparate teams must develop and adopt common Agile nomenclature and practices to allow them to collaborate more effectively and efficiently.

  1. Lack of Agile Skills and Training

Classroom trainings, certifications and Agile bootcamps are a good start at educating your teams, but how are those principles manifested in your unique organizational context? Successful Agile transformation requires hands-on training, doing real work in your unique environment.

  1. Inadequate Leadership Support

In any transformation, there is tension between pressure to produce in the short-term while pursuing the benefits of long-term transformation. Management focus on the former can overshadow the latter. Leadership visibility and participation at Agile ceremonies and public recognition of successes and progress go a long way toward supporting and empowering your people who are embracing and advancing Agile across the organization.

When Agile is successfully scaled across an enterprise, everyone’s effort is channeled toward delivering value for customers, from business operations and tech, to marketing, finance, compliance and security. Agile culture represents a shift from a company orientation toward a people and customer orientation that embraces the tenets of collaboration, co-creation, ownership, flexibility and communication. A true Agile enterprise is well positioned to efficiently deliver value and respond to rapidly changing environments and priorities.