Agile Transformation Abstracts

JUNE 8-12, 2020

ONLINE! Copenhagen, Denmark

Agile Transformation Abstracts

Agile Transformation: How Employees Experience and Cope with Transformative Change

Dina Koutsikouri, Department of Applied IT, University of Gothenburg, Sweden –

Sabine Madsen, Department of Politics and Society, Aalborg University, Denmark –

Nataliya Berbyuk Lindström, Department of Applied IT, University of Gothenburg, Sweden –


Modern manufacturing is highly competitive, requiring that organiza- tions reduce lead times and achieve greater organizational flexibility, for example by implementing agile ways of working. However, studies show that incumbent firms have persistent problems with adopting and scaling such practices. In this paper, we present an empirical account of agile transformation in a large manu- facturing company. Based on interviews, focus-groups, and observation data, we identify three themes for understanding how employees sustain confidence dur- ing transformative change: 1) making sense of the new, 2) practicing with peers and 3) letting go of legacy. Key findings are that initially employees are more concerned with making sense of the new rather than with the implementation of agile itself and that implementation of agile happens very gradually over time rather than through major breakthroughs. Thus, it takes time for employees to weather change, become acquainted with the new way of working and stabilize how they work together in the agile teams and across the ART (Agile Release Train). We contribute to extant literature with rich insight into the human impli- cations of agile transformation.

Strategy-focused agile transformation: a case study

Helen Sharp, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, U.K. –

Katie Taylor, University Central Lancashire, Preston, U.K.


Strategic agility enables an organisation to sense and seize opportunities, manage uncertainty and adapt to changes. This paper presents one case study of a traditional charitable organisation taking a strategy-focused approach to agile transformation. Interview data was collected over a 13-month period through interviews at different stages and with different members of the transformation team and Heads of Department. This case study illustrates the challenges faced in such a transformation, and shows that strategic agility requires different time horizons to co-exist: a future vision, a medium term set of objectives and a short term performance monitoring perspective.

Shifting conceptualization of control in Agile Transformations

Marius Mikalsen, SINTEF, Trondheim, Norway

Viktoria Stray, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

Nils Brede Moe, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Idun Backer, Storebrand, Oslo, Norway


Organizations seek to increase flexibility and innovation by doing ag- ile transformations. One particular transformation is to create cross-functional software development units. This represents new challenges for control for or- ganizations as the unformal agile control mechanisms from the software units meet the more formal, bureaucratic and hierarchical control from other units. The research on how to manage control in agile transformations, however, is scarce. Through a case study of a new, cross-functional unit in a financial institution we report new insights on how to implement control in agile transformations. To analyze our results, we draw on new perspectives for control in the digital era, which challenges existing presumptions on control. Our findings indicate how agile transformations require rethinking control and implementing new control perspectives more suitable for the digital era.

It’s not Easy Being Agile: Unpacking Paradoxes in Agile Environments

Betting Horlach, University of Hamburg –

Andreas Drechsler, Victoria University of Wellington –


In this paper, we outline inherent tensions in Agile environments, which lead to paradoxes that Agile teams and organizations have to navigate. By taking a critical perspective on Agile frameworks and Agile organizational set- tings the authors are familiar with, we contribute an initial problematization of paradoxes for the Agile context to be discussed at the workshop in order to pro- vide a foundation for a subsequent research agenda on Agile paradoxes.