Agile adoption failure patterns


Version One 13th State of Agile report (2018)

  1. Organizational culture at odds with agile values
  2. General organizational resistance to change
  3. Inadequate management support and sponsorship
  1. Respondents indicated that, by a large margin, leadership style is the biggest challenge to business agility adoption faced by most organizations. Related to leadership, qualitative analysis revealed the challenges of lack of buy-in and insufficient support for the Agile implementation.
  2. Change management and culture
  3. Agile Mindset
  4. Alignment

Consulting groups


  1. Not having alignment on the aspiration and value of an agile transformation
  2. Not treating agile as a strategic priority that goes beyond pilots
  3. Not putting culture first over everything else

Individual Coaches

Jasper Sonnevelt, Director of Global Leankit Consulting Services
From a talk at #LLKD19 (BCS Agile Specialist Group, London Lean Kanban Days conference 2019)

  1. Not recognizing the immediate significance of organizational culture
  2. Thinking that agile change is technical
  3. Trying to delegate responsibility for change

Newspaper Articles

Raconteur report, The Times, Enterprise Agility


Summary of main points (mine)
1) Lack of effective leadership including not having a clear understanding of the value — why are we doing this in the first place?
2) Not starting, growing and maintaining success at a sustainable pace
3) Not recognising the factors that get in the way — dysfunctional structures and networks, lack of experience, old culture, lack of role models, naive copy mode.. These structures often resist change or make change harder, e.g. trying to run an agile team within a waterfall governance organisation.
4) Not recognising the balance between points 2) and 3) and where you are at now.
5) Lack of situational awareness — what is our landscape and climate and what should we do in the specific context that we are in now and where we aim to be (see point 1).



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Craig Cockburn

Craig Cockburn


Freelance IT Professional, Lean Agile Coach. Wrote UK's first guide to getting online. Non Exec Director. From Dunblane, Perthshire.