Sunday, January 03, 2010

Moving from Waterfall to Agile – Some tips


If you want to make enemies, try to change something             -    Woodrow T. Wilson

Change Transitioning from waterfall to Agile is not only a big change but also a change that needs to happen at an organizational level. Leaders leading such changes need to have a clear vision about the end goal and need to effectively communicate the vision to all.   Lack of clarity in the vision and communication leads to creating more enemies than friends.

A CEO of an organization could command all projects to start practicing Agile immediately. Most of the employees have no choice but to follow the command. However employees who are not sold to this idea won’t be doing the work by putting their heart and soul in it. This change will die down over a period of time and such organizations will never be able to bring a new process change like Agile.

In order to effectively bring Agile into an organization, one has to identify the areas of resistance and meticulously handle them.

Always remember 

Resistance creates Persistence

Here are some of the tried and tested techniques for bringing organizational changes :

  Share the big picture with the employees
  Share the reason for the change and its benefits for the   organization       
  Trust the team implementing the change  
  Do an incremental change rather than big bang approach   
Provide the necessary support for implementing change (logistics, training, etc)  

Understand the groups who could resist the new changes and tackle them 

Some great articles have been written by various thought leaders about bringing organizational change.  Here are some of them:

    Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
    Managing Change
    Organized Change
    12 Important elements of change management

Leaders do mistakes while bringing process change (like Agile) into organization.  This article lists the common mistakes that leaders do while implementing the change.


An organization deciding to embrace Agile shouldn’t rush with the big bang approach. One needs to have patience and use the incremental approach.

My experience in helping organizations in transitioning from waterfall to Agile says, it could take any where from couple of months to a year or two for a complete transition. 

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