Why Agile is Failing at Large Companies

(and what you can do so it won't fail at yours)

“Agile” has reached near hysteria levels.  Yet in many companies, agile approaches fail to live up to promise and certainly fail to live up to hype.  Why?

Colleague Geri Winters is formally launching her new book, the title and subtitle of which are the title of this insight.  Her book digs into the failures and what to do to avoid the same fate.



I had a chance to review the pre-launch edition, and here are my thoughts from my Amazon review:

A needed dose of reality for “agile” near hysteria …

Rather than asking the question “to be or not to be agile” these days, it seems many businesses are defaulting to implementing agile approaches of some form. The agile movement has become almost a herd mentality … “Just do it” and urged on by hoards of new agile consultants.

The author adds a dose of needed reality to this situation by suggesting starting with better questions like: “What do we need?” and “What do we need to do to get there?” She then supplies information to help guide the reader in answering those questions. For instance, one further clarifying question the author suggests is: “Do we need better projects or better products?” If the analysis indicates that agile approaches of some form are needed, she offers analysis of what methods work best under different conditions..

One of the perhaps startling things you will learn in reading this book is that if agile approaches are used to solve the wrong problem or used in inappropriate settings, agile will actually make the situation worse. Another interesting nugget: some of the less widespread agile practices are easier to implement and gain quick wins.

Take advantage of the “Look Inside” feature to read the “Letter to Greg.” This ingenious idea will give you an excellent overview of the book and how they it can help you.

After you get the book, I suggest you next read the Introduction but then skip to he last section that sketches what an ideal agile organization looks like. The picture of the ideal will help you to evaluate your interest in and need for agility. You can then leverage the earlier sections for understanding more detail and deciding a course of action.

I have had the privilege of working with the author recently in assisting a Fortune 200 client work toward agility. Geri’s heart is to make sense of situations and solve problems, which is what she does in this book about the reality of agile. I and others encouraged her to write the book to add to the needed conversation about making “agile” successful instead of just trying to implement agile methods to appear “up with the times.”

Reading this book can potentially save your career from agile land mines.


By Mike Russell