I bought in to the Agile fantasy that managers go away, or are at least less destructive than before a transformation occurs. But here I am, in the middle of a large scale agile transformation at the fourth largest bank in the world – and there are managers EVERYWHERE. They are at best confused about how the change affects them, at worst openly resistant. They are the frozen middle. We’ve learned the agile fantasy is not true, and the frozen middle will be a much more potent force than expected. But there are more teams to stand up – so we move on to new teams in new areas of the organization. We have responded to this challenge with more coaches. More teams, more coaches. This leads to another problem: The thought that Coaches own the transformation and are responsible for the results. Coaching becomes a constraint (and excuse) for a stalled transformation. In reality, for a transformation to succeed the organization itself has to own and be responsible for its success. The organization itself has to become a self-organizing group focused on transformational goals. The Frozen Middle must be thawed to unlock this possibility. I learned these lessons years into our transformation, and we’ve taken steps to give managers the space and structures to be empowered to create the environment needed for long-term and sustainable team success.