a08 Who makes agile change more difficult?

Agile transformation begins with the individual and corporate culture arises from the behaviour of people. But which participants make agile change and the associated self-organisation and self-responsibility more difficult?

Decision-making processes put people back in the centre, because they involve each individual in her or his diversity in a solid and open way.

Entrepreneurial reality rarely shows better results

In practice, agile methods alone seldom bring automatically better results, nor do they accelerate the development process sustainably. More importantly, agile change often fails and agile methods are limited and weakened in their core. The paradigm change is also complicated by an enormous counterforce, the representatives of the classical project methods. The agile methods were developed precisely because classical project methods have not kept their performance promise in the past.


All those involved make things difficult

Which participants make agile change and the associated self-organisation and self-responsibility more difficult:

  • Top management – many actually hope for the benefits of agile methods. However, many tend to move with the general trend that agility needs to be done now. Both groups fail to recognize the actual consequences of the paradigm shift and their own necessary contribution to success: joint decisions, so that agile change succeeds and agile teams are safeguarded.
  • Business – they hope for higher quality in less time and put pressure, but are not willing to assume their role as product owners as a prerequisite for a successful agile change: jointly formed decisions so that the backlog has sufficient quality.
  • Middle Management – they are triangulated between the pressure of the business, the fear of losing their previous importance and the irritations from the agile teams: jointly formed decisions to work with the agile teams at eye level.
  • Agile Teams – stand in the area of tension between the euphoric new possibilities and the fear and lack of experience in self-organization and self-responsibility: so that they can make jointly formed decisions in the ceremonies and artefacts.
  • Agile Coachs – are rarely prepared for the task. Coaches with agile roots often lack the experience as business unit managers and executives to adequately integrate the challenges of the business. Coaches who are characterized by the classical project manager approach try to create agile change with traditional project procedures, which dilutes and devalues agile methods so that they can support agile teams and change with jointly formed decisions.
  • Agile Transformation Coachs – often classical project managers are renamed to Agility Master after a short further training and inherit traditional procedures in the agile methods and thus intensify the old problems in a new look: they thus prevent change and fail to enable the agile teams to make jointly formed decisions.
  • Classical Project Managers – often do not recognize the core and what to do in succession. They rob the core that would have the effect: they need training and experience in agile methods so that they can carry out the paradigm shift in themselves with jointly formed decisions.


What means aligned to the Inseparability of Emotions, Intuition and Cognition

Emotional motives are not always effective. Emotions work in an appropriate form, but they always have an area of too less and too much.

For all target groups, a fatal polarity between blocking doubters and driving forces for success emerges in companies. These two polarities arise from the basic emotions anxiety and anger.

Figure01: The emotional motive of anxiety ensure safety


Figure02: Anger with the emotional motive of successful influence

When people spend long periods of time in extreme areas (too much and too little), they develop typologies that often act according to precisely these emotional motives. Every emotion contains two polarities with a high risk for agile Change. This means that for the two basic emotions anxiety und anger there are 4 groups of participants who have a complicating effect on the agile transformation:

Anxiety with emotional motive: ensure safety

  • Reckless Trend followers with too little anxiety (1)
  • Blocking doubters with too much anxiety (2)

Anger with emotional motive: influence seeking success

  • Laissez-faire and post-heroic managers with too few anger (3)
  • Driving success pushers with too much anger (4)

Figure03: Four groups that complicate the agile transformation


Polarities between anxiety and anger threaten agile change

The internal polarities of a basic emotion can additionally lead to fatal interactions between to ensure safety and influence seeking success:

  • Agile theory popes lose themselves with blocking doubters in end- and resultless discussions. (1) The risk is, that nothing happens.
  • Promising agile coaches produce catastrophes with post-heroic top managers against better knowledge. (2)

Figure04: Polarities in Emotions threaten agile Change


Polarities between Anxiety and Anger threaten agile change in extreme manner

In agile change projects, both polarities are often found in dysfunctional areas that mutually reinforce each other. This constellation usually allows the desired goals to be missed and agile change to fail.

  • Trend followers and uncontrolled pressurer for success – very dangerous and usually leads to catastrophes. (1)
  • Powerless exert of influence and blocking doubters – nothing happens. (2)
  • Blocking doubters and uncontrolled pressurer for success – fights and conflicts that do not lead to the goal. (3)
  • Powerless exert of influence and trend follower – long and wonderful discussions that lead to nothing. (4)

Figure05: Crosswise and mutual reinforcing polarities


What the Participants can do

In order to act and react flexible, fast and good decisions have to be made. The feedback from the effect that has occurred, requires good and quick decisions again. This applies equally to individuals and teams.

Agile methods require a disciplined approach and agile change itself requires a cyclical evolutionary approach (agile). The pioneers who did it, like to talk about being “developed on failing”. At the end of a cycle, the learnings from the wrongdoing are worked out and transformed into measures that are integrated into the next cycle. The integration of decision-making processes into artefacts, ceremonies and roles fully exploits the real potential of agile methods.

Agile change is successful if the target groups identified above acquire the necessary knowledge and experience in the cycles according to their function and responsibility. This requires decision-making processes to produce commitments at different times, on different levels and for different topics.

Agility then provides people and businesses with the flexibility to act in the dynamics of today’s globalized world and respond to disruptive changes.

The Decision-Making Processes for Agile Methods – www.-k-i-e.com

Only by embedding agile methods in a functional decision management system can the real potential be exploited. Decision processes would equip the agile methods with processes that reliably produce the results.

In Sprint Planning, the Development Team, the Scrum Master and the Product Owner determine which stories are implemented in the Sprint. The following decision-making processes are required for this: Rating, individual decision-making, insure the quality, prioritization, commitment and resource question. In advance, the product owner must have prioritized the stories (prioritization process) and described them with appropriate quality (quality process).

Ceremonies such as Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review, Retrospective and Refinement also require decision-making processes to ensure that good results are achieved and to prevent excessive group dynamics. Traditional decision-making processes are only suitable for this purpose to a limited extent.

K-i-E Scale – A unsiversal Rating System

The basis of all ceremonies for safe and rapid decisions is a standardized and accepted evaluation. This applies to individual and especially team decisions.

The K-i-E scale allows a fast and precise evaluation as a prerequisite for a clear decision. Its flexibility makes it a universal, accepted and standardized rating system for all ceremonies and decision-making processes.

The internal structure of the K-i-E scale is suitable for precisely mapping the little differentiated impulse from intuition. This characteristic forms the congenial bridge to combine intuition and cognition into a single decision strategy. Its transparency opens the way for using group competence.

The K-i-E Intuition – Consciously Using the Intelligence of Intuition

The natural intuition that every human being has, becomes the K-i-E Intuition, when it is expressed in a standardized and selective way through the K-i-E scale. With the K-i-E Intuition, the expert knowledge of all can be accessed in a flash, in order to make a first coherent individual decision for all ceremonies and artefacts. The K-i-E Intuition is the ingenious basis for lightning-fast communication without words in small and large teams.

K-i-E Resource Question – The integrative Way to a Solution

The resource question triggers a clear procedure that activates the necessary actions to make success possible. It is therefore a basic building block for all ceremonies and artefacts. The parties involved are obliged to make their contribution to a solution. Instead of criticizing, illuminating the problem or investigating the causes, a retrospective view is avoided.

Instead, competence is stringently demanded, and it quickly becomes apparent what and how much is necessary for success.

This shortens discussions about factors. Useful actions are worked out and as an accompanying effect it becomes visible how supportive someone behaves.

K-i-E Decision Strategy – Safe Decision-Making

With the individual decision strategy, agile team members as well as Scrum Master and Product Owner decide quickly and reliably. The distorting influence of the emotional system is reduced and the conscious use of intuition is integrated. Everyone knows – in the traditional and agile world – which deficiencies individual decisions have. For this reason, further decision-making processes are absolutely necessary for Scrum to succeed in its tasks and to integrate group competence.

Quality Process – Jointly Accepted Quality for all Artefacts

All artefacts such as the stories in the product as well as in the sprint backlog are created with appropriate resources and in appropriate quality. The quality is already produced in early phases, which limits later problems and efforts.

The quality process creates a self-organized process that enables those involved in the process to produce quality in a self-determined manner.

Quality problems in the backlog create the biggest problems, both in classical and agile methods. People get with the K-i-E Quality Process a chance to do it well.

The Motivation Triangle – Goals will be achieved

Goals will be achieved, conflicts will be resolved and projects become successful if the appropriate skills are developed, internal or external permission is given and the will of those involved is sufficiently present.

The K-i-E motivation triangle is a practice-oriented application of the K-i-E scale. It is a transparent tool with which candidates can be assessed in a comprehensible way.
With its help it can be derived how great the chances for the success of a project will be.

Commitment Process for Jointly Supported Decisions

Identification and loyalty to the goal are the essential success factors for all ceremonies par excellence. The commitment process involves all participants 100%. The process forces all participants to express themselves and to take an evaluable standpoint. Diverging points of view become visible right at the beginning and are brought to a common constructive solution through the supportive collaboration of all.

Obstacles, risks and hidden conflicts are identified in early phases. In later project phases they would cause cost increases and delays after considerable investments have already been made. This situation is counteracted even before the start of a project and the actions to ensure success are worked out jointly. The effect in the subsequent implementation is central to success.

Prioritization Process – Common Selection and Order of Topics

With the prioritization process, the core question – what is implemented in the sprint and what is not done – is solved together with the Development Team, the Scrum Master and the Product Owner. The topics to be worked on are then put in order by the Development Team.

For each sprint, various stories compete for the limited resources of time, budget, competencies, focus and implementation capacity. The prioritization process achieves the goal of finding a common set of requirements within a given timeframe.

Briefing Process for a successful Delegation – to get what you want

The delegation process ensures that you get what you need from internal and external teams to produce a good overall result. Prerequisites for the delegation process: a standardized evaluation with the K-i-E scale, the resource question, the quality, commitment and prioritization process and the motivation triangle.

The New Decision-Making Culture – The Book

The K-i-E theory of the inseparability of emotions, intuition and cognition provides the scientific basis for the agile methods and decision-making processes and thus places them on a solid foundation.

The decision-making processes for overcoming entrepreneurial challenges are described in practical terms for agile transformation in my book “Die neue Entscheidungskultur”, Hanser Verlag 2018.
More on my Homepage –  www.k-i-e.com

The New Decision-Making Culture – The Seminar (2 days)

Produce decisions instead of deciding. The inseparability of emotions, intuition and cognition is explained in a practical way. Practice-proven tools for 100% participation.

Next Seminar: Friday 25th and Saturday 26th January 2019

Location: Frankfurt am Main

The emotional system is the origin and end of all thinking. New thinking with conscious emotional logic expands human and artificial intelligence.

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Blog Series – How Agile Change succeeds



  • The jointly supported decision as a superior form of decision-making
  • Embedding of agile methods in a functional decision management system
  • Decision-Making processes create a new decision-making culture
  • Calibrated emotional loops
  • Decision processes solve the leadership dilemma
  • The lack of support is homemade
  • The entrepreneurial reality
  • Agile change succeeds with decision management

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