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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Aug 26, 2020

In this bonus episode of the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast, Christy Erbeck, Chief People Officer at AgileThought, is serving as your guest host for today’s conversation with Steven Granese and Quincy Jordan. Steven Granese is the Managing Director of AgileThought’s Transform Practice and Quincy Jordan serves as the Agile Competency Lead and Principal Transformation Consultant at AgileThought.


In their conversation today, they discuss scaling and transformations and how to effectively lead organizations towards business agility. They speak about the role of scaling in transformations, the challenges of scaling, opportunities that arise as an organization begins to scale, how to know when it is appropriate to help a client scale, and how to know when you’re on the right path with a transformation.


Key Takeaways

Transformation & scaling:

Part of a transformation is in transforming how people think

There are a number of ways to scale

Though it is called “scaling,” oftentimes it is about breaking down the problem into smaller pieces (especially in organizations that are already large)

A real transformation is an organizational transformation throughout all departments

The long term goal is to achieve business agility

Tips for getting clients started on their scaling or transformation journey:

Break down the problem into more manageable pieces in order to be able to take action on them and deliver faster (by delivering faster in these smaller increments you are setting expectations with stakeholders, which increases transparency and creates an outcome of more trust)

Buy-in is needed from leaders

Make sure to employ roadmaps with clients which can help with expectations

Clarity and guidance alleviate stress during the scaling process

Leaders need to address problems upfront when it comes to adopting agile

Asking the question “why” is critical for transformations; it has to be answered first (especially if you’re looking at a true transformation)

“Why are you doing this?”

“What is it that you’re trying to change?”

“Why are you trying to change?”

“Are you confronting real organizational challenges and problems that you have?”

Knowing what your client wants to focus on fundamentally changes how you work with them

Note: A true transformation will take time (sometimes years) and oftentimes, things will get worse before they get better

Differences between the two modes of adopting agile: Delivery and Transformation:

Ask: If you’re interested in adopting an agile way of working, are you focused on improving your delivery OR do you want a transformation (i.e. change the way your business fundamentally operates)?

Knowing which your client wants to do is critical

If your client just wants to improve their process and doesn’t believe anything is broken, they just want to improve their delivery

There is no right or wrong answer, but it is important to clarify what outcome they’re looking for as it will greatly impact how you help them

If a client wants 10–20% better output for their teams they’re looking at improving delivery

If a client wants to fundamentally look at the way their business operates, the types of customers they’re going after, the way their teams are structured, their financial incentives, etc. they are looking at a transformation

It’s important to determine when a client wants to achieve certain outcomes so you know whether to focus on improving delivery first vs. long-term transformation (that will lead to better delivery down the line)

Benefits of an agile transformation/achieving true business agility:

Being nimble, adaptable, and being able to react quickly to changes and demands from customers or the business

With the right culture and infrastructure in place, an organization is able to move very quickly when an unknown market shift happens (such as with COVID-19)

A true agile transformation allows an organization to be in a position that can weather any storm

Allows for better reactions to the unknown

True business agility helps the business be adaptable

Tips for leaders during a transformation:

Encourage the ability to learn, relearn, and unlearn this is critical because companies may get stuck in their past successes, which limits their ability to learn new things and/or do things in a new way

Be courageous and vulnerable

Be a learner, not a knower

Continuously adapt and learn

Have a growth mindset in order to be able to help your people

Leaders need to ask themselves: “Am I clear as to where I’m going in the future?”, “Do I know why I’m trying to get there?”, and “Can I deliver in small increments and learn from the feedback?”

Have humility in understanding that everything can change in a second so the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn is critical (if you don’t, your business will become vulnerable to competitors)


Mentioned in this Episode:

Christy Erbeck’s LinkedIn

Quincy Jordan’s LinkedIn

Steven Granese’s LinkedIn

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, by Marshall Goldsmith

Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results, by Barry O’Reilly

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek

The Agile of Agile: How Smart Companies Are Transforming the Way Work Gets Done.
by Stephen Denning


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