Francisco J. Navarro-Meneses Francisco J. Navarro-Meneses

Agile Best Practices for Transformational Leaders.

Agile Best Practices for Transformational Leaders

Transformational leaders committed to moving towards smart, data-driven management should start thinking about how they can improve their organization’s agility, which means first having a good understanding of what an agile framework is about and choosing which practices and methodologies are best suited to implement in each transformation initiative.

Not surprisingly, one of the main obstacles to adopting an agile framework to support business transformation is the often misinformed choice of the tools and techniques that are most valuable to teams.

So, this article is about answering the following key question that every transformational leader will have to face at some point: What agile practices are best suited to effectively improve the organization’s business performance in a context of smart business transformation?

Let’s take as a starting point the examination of the different agile principles that can contribute the most and best to smart transformation projects and how they differ from traditional methods. Some of the most important ones every transformational leader should consider are presented below.

One of the main obstacles to adopting an agile framework is the often misinformed choice of the tools and techniques that are most valuable to teams.

Delivery by incremental transformation

The development philosophy of every agile project, like that of a business transformation project, is materialized in iterative, short and incremental development cycles that are executed in an evolutionary style.

The iterative and continuously evolving development cycles of the Agile philosophy replace the traditional waterfall style by prioritizing the development of those requirements that the user values most. This allows the team responsible for the transformation to continually adapt the development tasks as the client or user provides feedback to the team.

Through each iteration, the team incorporates incremental improvements into the final product that are quickly made available to the client/user for feedback. These iterations generally last 2 to 4 weeks, although the final time depends on the nature of the tasks involved.

What better way for a transformational leader to ensure selective and effective progress than by applying this work philosophy in the development of their transformation initiatives.

Collaboration and Self-management

Transformation projects based on Agile principles enable mechanisms that promote strong collaboration between team members, as well as between team members and the customer/end user.

Agile teams, unlike traditional transformation project management teams, are independent and self-organized, work fast, manage their tasks, and make their own decisions.

Agile teams decide the sequence in which transformation tasks are carried out in each iteration and are responsible for deliveries to the client/user in accordance with the committed requirements.

Agile teams are independent and self-organized, and they know how to work fast Additionally, Agile team members are discouraged from performing routine or repetitive tasks manually and if any arise, attempts are made to replace them with automated tasks.

Early (and Continuous) Testing

For Agile transformation teams to continuously deliver incremental transformation products to customers/users, they need to set up testing mechanisms in advance and test very frequently.

Having automated test systems (e.g., analytics-driven testing) makes it easy for teams to test early in the transformation cycle and ensures that the transformation products created are reliable and accurate to customer specifications.

In complex transformation settings, it is highly recommended that agile teams use test-based practices whereby transformational leaders test the results achieved by transformation products as soon as possible.

Once the first tests are completed, the transformation products are updated, and new tests are rerun as necessary until final approval. If the results do not meet expectations, transformational leaders must update the products and test them again. This is the robustness that the Agile philosophy brings to the dynamics of business transformation.

In complex transformation settings, it is highly recommended that transformational leaders use test-based practices of transformation products

Relationships Focused on Change

The traditional approach of old transformation leaders in their relationships with technology and knowledge providers was generally to sign a customer-supplier contract with terms that were intended to be as complete and detailed as possible. Any change in the conditions established in a contract was considered negative and the parties had to try to do everything possible to avoid it.

In transformation projects under the agile philosophy, a main objective is to eliminate bureaucracy and reduce as much as possible the resources necessary to draft a comprehensive contract between the parties.

Change becomes the rule, not the exception, since the objectives and results pursued constantly change. Therefore, being prepared to respond to changing conditions is an essential attitude that transformational leaders must develop and with which contracts must be aligned.

Collaboration and communication

While most contracts typically address expectations of collaboration between the various stakeholders in a transformation initiative, it is difficult to meet all the requirements necessary to successfully complete a transformation initiative at the time of signing.

The usual thing is that when the time comes to sign a contract, all the needs are unknown and all the requirements cannot be anticipated in advance.

Transformational leaders must be prepared to respond to change in their relationships with technology and knowledge providers

The way to resolve this dilemma is to increase communication between stakeholders to continually approximate expectations and achieve satisfactory delivery. Agile communication encompasses everything that happens between members of the transformation team, with customers and end users, as well as with operations staff and company management.

The need to communicate effectively is, therefore, a critical skill that every transformational leader must develop.

Continuous Transformation Delivery

Continuous Transformation Delivery is a set of activities and workflow automation process used to develop new functionalities or features in software development, from ideation to delivery of value to the customer or end user.

When transformational leaders use a Continuous Transformational Delivery approach in their transformation initiatives, the time from development to production of these initiatives is dramatically reduced and agile teams focus on delivering transformation products quickly and incrementally.

Effective communication with the stakeholders of transformation initiatives is a critical skill that every transformational leader must develop.

Once agile transformation team members receive feedback from customers or users, they take immediate action to implement that feedback. The team uses the feedback received to learn and improve. Improvements can be introduced throughout the transformation process or in the delivered transformation products themselves.


As the number and complexity of transformation initiatives increases in business, the speed at which transformational leaders must be able to work also increases. Furthermore, the pressure that transformational leaders are under from stakeholders to meet growth and profitability expectations is also increasing and agile practice frameworks, although originally born in the world of software development, offer a focused solution to successfully organize and deliver business transformation initiatives.

Agile practice frameworks introduce a philosophy of work and delivery based on incremental results that eliminate processes that consume time and resources and give autonomy to teams to make their own decisions based on continuous communication with stakeholders.

Transformational leaders will have a toolbox at their disposal in Agile practices to be faster, more effective and more robust to succeed in their business transformation initiatives.

Photo by master1305 Freepik

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