Symbolic Innovation in Agile Transformations


Much of the empirical research on agile transformations concentrates on the success factors for effective change management. Although these factors are essential in establishing beneficial norms and practices, the existing research does not adequately address the importance of language in distinguishing the current plan-driven processes from their agile counterparts. The labels in agile and plan driven processes represent practices that are well established. Accurate process labeling is the foundation for creating any inter organizational lessons. This paper establishes the link between linguistic manipulation and how it might lead to a form of symbolic innovation that can impede a greater understanding of transformational challenges. During an agile transformation some organizational actors re-label deterministic plan-driven processes using agile language. The symbolic innovation leads to no improvement and as a result is more easily abandoned without meaningful process change.

Doug Rose
Syracuse University
School of Information Studies
Syracuse, USA