The Indian subcontinent has not seen many successful Agile Transformations. In this report we share how a group of 30 Lean Agile Practitioners and thought leaders from industry came together to better understand why Agile Transformations have not achieved or sustained the results in India that we hoped for. This special report was shepherded by Agile Alliance (under Rebecca Wirfs-Brock), with the intention of bringing out key challenges and success factors for any attempted or possible Agile Transformation in Indian IT and Software Development Centers.

At gatherings all around India, the talk is about different tools, techniques and agile experiences. But many of the experiences are either not from India or only partially achieved here. Agile experiences in India invariably fall short of full-fledged organization-scale self-sustaining irreversible transformations. Most are about rather short-term limited-scale team-level externally-supported “agile adoptions” or about lower-order internal efficiency gains such as faster builds, or higher code coverage, lower tech debt, or quicker deployments. No doubt these accomplishments are important from a product development standpoint, i.e. “building the product right”, as well as a product management standpoint, i.e., “building the right product”. However, in most cases, any objective assessment or quantitative demonstration of improved agility in terms of market-facing metrics (such as revenue impact, percentage of market share, number of paying customers, etc.) is conspicuously absent! Roles in functions such as product management or user-experience design have only begun to spring up in last few years. So the matter of fact is not many have seen real Agile Transformation in India, and those who have seen it, recognize that scaling it across the organization and sustaining it over a reasonable period of time is a wider and chronic problem.

On paper, it all looked familiar and appeared highly successful. However, given that most organizations were either IT outsourcing operations working per or alongside a client’s given process (often in a tight contract lest there be legal disputes around delivery not matching the specs or project plans), or the so-called GICs (the Global In-house Centers, i.e. the in-house delivery arm for MNCs typically headquartered overseas) working on derivative versions (as opposed to “1.0” problems) or smaller-scale problems (compared to their headquarters) or on “lights on” work, or the Startups that were predominantly in early phases of acquiring or post-product/market fit; it often stood out that the landscape looked very different from the US / West Europe (where the work flowed from, for the most part).

So, to bring out the real state of Agile in India in the open, we (Deepti Jain and Tathagat Varma) called for a Summit—a “Change Agents Summit,” to create an authentic account of the situation.

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