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Agile Transformation in Project Organization: Knowledge Management Aspects and Challenges

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The objective of the paper is to present knowledge management aspects of an Agile transformation as an organizational change resultant from introduction of a new Agile project management methodology in the context of the organizational learning theory. The research study was concentrated on Information Technology (IT) & Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects which are considerably utilizing volatile knowledge resources. The paper responds to a research questions about potential knowledge management aspects, issues and challenges within Agile transformation process in terms of its preconditions and facilitators. Presented empirical research is based on a literature review and a quantitative analysis of multiple case studies of companies implementing new Agile project management methodology. The empirical research results were gathered with applying triangulation method of multiple case studies originated from document analysis, interviews and observation in order to reach higher reliability of research results. The detailed examination is focused on knowledge management aspects, issues and challenges within the Agile transformation process in large-sized project organizations. As shown by results of the research, the change in project management methodology significantly impacted the project organization as a whole. It was a source of comprehensive organizational changes in processes, technology, methodology, strategy, structure and organizational culture and it allowed for enhancing the competitive advantage of the organization. The key precondition and facilitator of an Agile transformation process is the knowledge management aspect. Project organizations and their senior executives have to address many knowledge management prerequisites and challenges with a view to ensuring a successful transition process deployment. The research results revealed fundamental preconditions and demands in terms of: continuous training and workshops, coaching, mentoring, involvement of Agile coaches and champions, establishment of community of practice, rational support from executive team and learning organizational culture. However, the major Agile transition challenge to enterprises is to initiate a continuous learning process as a part of the learning organizational culture.
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Agile Transformation in Project Organization: Knowledge Management Aspects and
Challenges
Pawel Paterek
AGH University of Science and Technology, Krakow, Poland
pawel.paterek@gmail.com
Abstract: The objective of the paper is to present knowledge management aspects of an Agile transformation
as an organizational change resultant from introduction of a new Agile project management methodology in
the context of the organizational learning theory. The research study was concentrated on Information
Technology (IT) & Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects which are considerably utilizing
volatile knowledge resources. The paper responds to a research questions about potential knowledge
management aspects, issues and challenges within Agile transformation process in terms of its pre-conditions
and facilitators. Presented empirical research is based on a literature review and a quantitative analysis of
multiple case studies of companies implementing new Agile project management methodology. The empirical
research results were gathered with applying triangulation method of multiple case studies originated from
document analysis, interviews and observation in order to reach higher reliability of research results. The
detailed examination is focused on knowledge management aspects, issues and challenges within the Agile
transformation process in large-sized project organizations. As shown by results of the research, the change in
project management methodology significantly impacted the project organization as a whole. It was a source
of comprehensive organizational changes in processes, technology, methodology, strategy, structure and
organizational culture and it allowed for enhancing the competitive advantage of the organization. The key
pre-condition and facilitator of an Agile transformation process is the knowledge management aspect. Project
organizations and their senior executives have to address many knowledge management pre-requisites and
challenges with a view to ensuring a successful transition process deployment. The research results revealed
fundamental pre-conditions and demands in terms of: continuous training and workshops, coaching,
mentoring, involvement of Agile coaches and champions, establishment of community of practice, rational
support from executive team and learning organizational culture. However, the major Agile transition
challenge to enterprises is to initiate a continuous learning process as a part of the learning organizational
culture.
Keywords: project management, knowledge management, Agile transformation, organizational change,
organizational learning theory, Agile methodology.
1. Introduction
Contemporary large-sized companies deliver advanced products and business services to customers through
unique, innovative and complex projects and programs. A dynamic and unpredictable market competition
brought many challenges in the complex IT and ICT project and program management. IT and ICT projects are
widely used by nearly all industries to deliver their own projects by applying some advanced digital
technologies. Some of the key challenges in the project and program management include: reduction of the
time-to-market, a higher overall project efficiency and productivity, growing predictability of customer
deliveries, increasing transparency of project planning, improving cooperation and communication between
business and project teams, improving project and program portfolio management and developing the right
organizational culture. The complex projects and programs require effective knowledge management, both in
the field of technology and management.
In order to address the above challenges, the knowledge intensive project organizations are looking for new
project management methodologies better adapted to dynamically changing business environment and
customer expectations. Large-sized enterprises implement their complex and unusual IT and ICT projects and
programs by applying an enormous quantity of continuously updated knowledge resources, both human-
based experience as well as electronic databases and other online repositories (Cegarra-Navarro et al., 2016;
Denning, 2016; Appelbaum et al., 2017). A strong market competition exhorts continuous project organization
development in order to achieve a smarter and faster delivery of its product and service portfolio.
Organizational development in project management methodologies requires addressing several knowledge
management aspects, issues and challenges (Koskinen, 2012; Sullivan et al., 2013; Dikert et al., 2016).
Many IT and ICT project enterprises were applied or moved to Agile project management methodologies to
cope with the key challenges through introduction of diverse organizational changes. The transition is better
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known as an Agile transformation process requiring complex and long-lasting number of organizational
changes at all levels of whole enterprise (Laanti et al., 2011; Gandomani & Nafchi, 2015; 2016; Dikert et al.,
2016). Effective knowledge management is a critical precondition of a successful transition process in large-
sized project companies. There are few comprehensive and detailed research studies in this area (Laanti et al.,
2011). The empirical research presented in the paper filled the knowledge gap about wide-scale organizational
changes caused by new Agile methodologies application seen from the knowledge management perspective.
The key facilitators identified in this paper might come as a valuable feedback for management practice and
management executive to proceed with an Agile transformation process smoother, at a lower cost, time and
effort and to proactively mitigate a relatively high risk of related issues and failures.
The primary goal of the empirical research in this paper is to respond to the research question about
knowledge management aspects, issues and challenges of the Agile transformation process as an
organizational change arising from the introduction of new Agile project management methodology in the
context of organizational learning theory. The research results showed that the introduction of new project
management methodologies resulted in organizational changes in technology, methodology, processes,
strategy and organizational culture. The key pre-condition and facilitator of an Agile transformation process is
an effective knowledge management strongly focused on continuous training, coaching and mentoring while
developing learning organizational culture in the same time.
A literature review and a quantitative analysis of multiple case studies of companies implementing new project
management methodology were applied as research methods. The basic limitation of the research study
analysis is the source of multiple case studies. Primarily, they were based on documents accessible through the
Internet repositories which contained only a limited number of details valuable from the research perspective.
It might be beneficial to repeat the same or similar multiple case studies analysis as a future research
opportunity to compare obtained results.
The structure of the paper is as follows: chapter two is theoretical underpinnings, chapter three presents
methodology approach, chapter four is empirical research results and finally chapter five contains result
discussion and summary conclusions. What is more, chapter two is review of the existing literature divided
into two subchapters presenting knowledge management aspects of an Agile transformation and
organizational learning theory and organizational changes.
2. Theoretical underpinnings
2.1 Knowledge management aspects of an Agile transformation
Contemporary large-sized, high-tech project organizations deliver advanced products and business services to
the marketplace through unique, innovative, complex and creative IT and ICT software development projects
and programs utilizing enormous resources of constantly varying knowledge, both explicit and tacit (Paasivaara
& Lassenius, 2014; Cegarra-Navarro et al., 2016). The rapidly changing and unpredictable marketplace as well
as constantly increasing importance knowledge-based and human-related work force many IT and ICT
enterprises to explore new approaches in project and programs management in order to overtake their
competitors (Gandomani & Nafchi, 2015; 2016; Cegarra-Navarro et al., 2016). IT and ICT enterprises have
introduced Agile methodologies in project teams as a more efficient and tailored work organization methods.
An Agile transformation process denotes transition from traditional project methodologies to Agile project
methodologies and requires changes of all organizational levels (Gandomani & Nafchi, 2015; 2016). The
transition process deployment is a complex, long and evolutionary due to the scalability issue requiring
synchronization of all these changes among diverse organizational units in a large-sized company (Laanti et al.,
2011; Dikert et al., 2016). Project team members, all management executives, and customers have to be open
to learn a lot, engage, cooperate and make a significant effort to resolve many issues and overcome barriers
and challenges within a long timeframe of an Agile transition process deployment (Gandomani & Nafchi, 2015;
2016; Dikert et al., 2016).
The transformation process is tightly connected with achieving the organizational agility feature (Sullivan et al.,
2013). Organizational agility as a feature means the ability to respond rapidly, proactively and intentionally to
an unexpected changing demand whilst controlling the risk, efficiently adapt and innovate as well as shrinking
the feedback loop (Paterek, 2016, p. 2). Appelbaum et al. (2017) define organizational agility as a bridge to
synchronize the speed of organizational learning and the speed of environmental change. It mediates the
relationship between knowledge utilization and company performance (Cegarra-Navarro et al., 2016).
Organizational agility as a feature facilitates the search, acquisition, retrieval, conversion and application of
appropriate knowledge resources in development of high-quality services and products (Ibidem, 2016).
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Together with knowledge application processes they are complementary ones and should occur at the same
time (Ibidem, 2016). This feature enables organization with continuous learning and continuous improvements
meeting customer expectations and gaining a competitive advantage (Denning, 2016). Agile as a mindset is
much more important than project management methodology itself and only its full adoption mitigates the
risk of unsuccessful transformation process (Denning, 2016, p. 13).
The cost of Agile transformation in terms of money, resources, disrupted working routines and quality of
development may become significantly high, so there is a necessity to firmly address knowledge management
aspects to mitigate the risk of an unsuccessful transition (Olszewska, 2016). There are a few essential
knowledge management aspects of the transformation: organizational learning culture, continuous learning
process, knowledge repositories, training sessions and workshops, community of practice and management
support in terms of coaching and mentoring (see Table 1 for reference). Mayer et al. (2013) proposed to
institutionalize a culture of organizational learning associated with single and double loop continuous learning
process as antecedence of continuous transformation process. Organizational changes require expansion of
the existing knowledge repositories and a strong collaboration to create, assimilate, disseminate, and
effectively apply knowledge about transformations (Kotnour, 2001). Executive management in large-sized
organizations should establish groups of Agile experts with common interest and deep knowledge of the
domain as community of practice that ensure smooth transition and decrease risk of transition failure
(Paasivaara & Lassenius, 2014).
Although the transformation process encounters a lot of issues, barriers and challenges, there are some
facilitators possible to apply in order to avoid an unsuccessful transition. Table 1 presents Agile transformation
issues, challenges and facilitators from knowledge management perspective.
Table 1: Knowledge management issues, challenges and facilitators of an Agile transformation process
Knowledge management issues and challenges Knowledge management facilitators
Lack of knowledge (Gandomani & Nafchi, 2016)
Lack of training and coaching (Dikert et al., 2016)
Lack of guidance from literature (Dikert et al.,
2016)
Inadequate and dysfunctional training
(Gandomani et al., 2015; Gandomani & Nafchi,
2015)
Organizational culture is not supporting learning
environment (Dikert et al., 2016; Gregory et al.,
2016)
Knowledge sharing processes are not enough
effective (Gregory et al., 2016)
Initial training and workshops (Gandomani &
Nafchi, 2015; Cha et al., 2015)
Training and coaching (Kotnour, 2001; Cha et al.,
2015; Gandomani & Nafchi, 2015; Dikert et al.,
2016)
Appropriate coaching and mentoring (Gandomani
& Nafchi, 2015)
Agile Champions as change supporters
(Gandomani & Nafchi, 2015)
Change agent (Sullivan et al., 2013; Dikert et al.,
2016)
Continuous learning (Mayer et al., 2013;
Appelbaum et al., 2017)
Learning organizational culture (Clanon, 1999;
Mayer et al., 2013)
Community of practice (Clanon, 1999; Paasivaara
& Lassenius, 2014; Dikert et al., 2016)
Source: made by the author
Clanon (1999) proposed a number of principles in his learning model of organizational transformation that
support the learning culture in contemporary enterprises: a drive to learn, learning is social, learning
communities, aligning with nature, cross-organizational collaboration, subsidiary, inclusiveness and shared
responsibility. Dikert et al. (2016) underlined practical recommendations in training and coaching area as, for
example: training on new Agile methods, coaching teams by experience, hiring change supporters, hiring
experienced people from outside of the company, establish community of practice environment and educate
all staff including senior management executive. By employing talented people, experts, change agents, Agile
coaches or champions, the leadership team can significantly empower the whole organization transformation
as a complex process of organizational development (Sullivan et al., 2013).
2.2 Organizational learning theory and organizational changes
Organizational learning theory refers to the cognitive actions about the learning processes of and within
organizations (Easterby-Smith & Lyles, 2011, p. 3). In turn, a learning organization is somewhat an ideal type of
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enterprise working efficiently due to the ability to learn effectively (Ibidem, 2011). Organizational knowledge is
a value of learning from the theoretical perspective and knowledge management is a value from the practical
perspective. Easterby-Smith & Lyles (2011) have provided comprehensive literature review related to these
concepts. Organizational development and changes are among the interesting sources of learning. As a mutual
relation, organizational learning is a one of key enabler of strategic changes (Ibidem, 2011).
The process of organizational transformation as a strategic change brings up a number of aspects in terms of
organizational learning. Clanon (1999) presented thinking and quality of interaction among people
participating in changes on the top of the organization's structure and practice. Cha et al. (2015) mentioned
intentional actions, common learning practices, training, teamwork, continuous experimentations, workshops
for sharing knowledge and experiences as learning factors required by IT- enabled transformation capabilities.
The organizational learning theory might serve as a good framework for continuous transformation exploiting
learning process to develop learning organizational culture (Mayer, 2013). Change agents, learning workplace,
transformation team or engaged stakeholders are influencing learning and development within transformation
process (Sullivan et al., 2013).
Brandi & Iannone (2015) stressed the informal practice perspective of organizational learning as a constant
evolution through social and cultural interactions to support innovative learning technologies. They pointed to
learning through participation in communities of practice as the key aspect of an informal learning process
(Ibidem, 2015). A community of practice is a group of people learning by common work assignments as well as
social practice and interaction over some period of time to develop a shared identity, language, artefacts,
norms, and values (Shipton & DeFillippi, 2011). They share experiences through imitation, observation,
narration, and storytelling (Ibidem, 2011).
Organizational learning in a project based enterprises is a much more dynamic and knowledge intensive
process than it is in other companies. It is a part of everyday learning through project team’s collaboration,
experiments, problem solving, problem absorption or lessons learned from issues and failures (Koskinen,
2012). Learning by experience inside a collaborative group of people or among different project teams is a
fundamental organizational learning enabler of a successful company transformation (Critten, 2016).
The organizational learning process is necessary to continuously introduce innovations and to keep pace of
enterprise development. Organizational culture is the key determinant of both learning and technical
innovation (Sanz-Valle et al., 2011). A flexible adhocracy culture is much more supporting organizational
learning than hierarchy culture (Ibidem, 2011), especially for project organizations with many collaborating
and interacting project teams. Transformational leadership has also a considerably positive impact on learning
and knowledge management effectiveness (Imran et al., 2016).
3. Methodology
The primary goal of the empirical research presented in this paper is to show knowledge management aspects,
issues and challenges of the Agile transformation process as an organizational change due to the introduction
of new Agile project management methodology in the context of organizational learning theory. The research
population is specified as large-sized companies deploying or transitioning to new Agile project management
methodology in order to deliver advanced business services and products to their customers through complex,
innovative and unique projects and programs. The main research focus was on IT and ICT projects which are
intensively knowledge-demanding.
The main purpose of the illustrative and explanatory multiple case studies (Struminska-Kutra & Koladkiewicz,
2012, pp. 14-16; Kozarkiewicz, 2012, p. 202; Czakon, 2015, p. 201) and the following quantitative analysis used
as a research method was to find answers to the following research questions about:
The comprehensive aspects of the knowledge management within an Agile transformation process in
terms of its pre-conditions and facilitators.
The issues and challenges of the knowledge management preventing a successful Agile
transformation process and potential actions to deal with it.
The triangulation method (Luczewski & Bednarz-Luczewska, 2012, pp. 182-183; Kozarkiewicz, 2012, pp. 202-
203; Stanczyk, 2015, p. 248) was used to enrich and authenticate the final empirical research results. 107
different enterprise case studies were collected through exploration of the existing Internet repositories. They
were written by multiple authors and consultants (informant’s triangulation) assigned to 12 different groups
(source’s triangulation). Standardized and unstructured interviews with an experienced Agile coach led to
generating 2 case studies and author’s own observation led to formulation of the last examined case study.
The multiple quantitative analysis of case studies resulted in 9 single-valued variables and 9 multi-valued
variables examined for each interpreted case study.
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The Internet source of multiple case studies is the primary constraint of the presented research study analysis.
Most of the consultant’s descriptions refer to success stories or contain some positive marketing details about
Agile transformation process instead of the crucial information about the real issues, obstacles, dark sides and
challenges. Interviews with the Agile coach and author’s own observation mitigate this issue in part. Moreover,
author’s experience and project management background allow for a down-to-the point interpretation of the
description and its context. At the same time, the possible diverse qualitative interpretations by other
researchers could be an interesting starting point for the future research studies leading to valuable
comparisons and conclusions.
Source: made by the author
Figure 1: Industry area
The Agile transformation process was primarily conducted in large-sized enterprises of the IT software and
telecommunication industries (31%), focusing on IT and ICT project management application (Figure 1).
4. Results
Source: made by the author
Figure 2: Knowledge management context of an Agile transformation process
The main empirical research result showed how the introduction of a new Agile project management
methodology impacted the entire organization and resulted in number of organizational changes coupled with
the synergy of all these changes (Figure 2).
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Source: made by the author
Figure 3: Organizational changes introduced by Agile transformation process (weighted)
Transition to the new project management methodology was a source of integral organizational changes in
processes, methods, tools, communication, customer cooperation, organizational structure, organizational
strategy, organizational culture, technology, financial accounting and law (Figure 3).
Source: made by the author
Figure 4: Main Agile transformation issues and challenges (weighted)
The key pre-condition and facilitator of an Agile transformation process is the knowledge management aspect
and its context to organizational change deployment (Figure 2 & 4). Project organizations and their senior
executives need to address numerous knowledge management pre-requisites and challenges related to these
organizational changes in order to ensure a successful deployment of the transition process. Weighted charts
(Figure 3, 4 & 7) present the percentage values of factors which is the quotient of occurrence of a factor to all
occurrences counted for all factors.
The effective knowledge management together with a complexity of Agile project methodology deployment in
large-sized enterprise were identified as two major issues and challenges within the overall Agile
transformation process (Figure 4). The knowledge management aspect of the Agile transformation process is
the primary focus of this paper and it will be discussed further in more detail.
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Source: made by the author
Figure 5: Long-term goals of an Agile transformation process
The essential long-term goals of an Agile transformation process revealed in the presented research study are:
reduction of the time-to-market, a higher overall project efficiency and productivity, a growing predictability of
customer deliveries and increasing transparency of project planning (Figure 5). Creating knowledge repository
and developing learning organizational culture were identified as important intermediate knowledge
management goals of an Agile transformation process (Figure 5). The learning organizational culture was
antecedent of effective knowledge management and successful Agile transformation process.
Source: made by the author
Figure 6: Facilitators of an Agile transformation process
The top 5 facilitators of an Agile transformation process (Figure 6) were strongly related to the knowledge
management context. Both the theoretical Agile background in terms of appropriate training/workshops as
well as a practical support from Agile coaches and champions were mandatory pre-conditions required to be
maintained as continuous practices in the process deployment. The research results revealed the important
role of change agents and a community of practice as a practical source of knowledge (Figure 6).
While comprehensive and professional training was identified as a necessary pre-condition of the Agile
transformation process, the effectiveness of knowledge management was one of serious obstacles showed in
non-supporting conditions of this process. It occurred in 53% of the interpreted case studies – 6th out of 14, all
identified non-supporting factors. The learning organizational culture (Figure 5) can serve as a facilitator as
well as become a serious obstacle or the root cause of an unsuccessful Agile deployment. When comparing
results of research analysing the organizational culture as a supporting factor (5%) and as a non-supporting
factor (19%), the research identified a significant challenge in developing it as it should be appropriate.
Figure 7 presents weighted research results for actions that need to be taken or actions recommended in an
Agile transformation process from the knowledge management perspective. Appropriate training (14%) and
increased learning (13%) activity showed major demands in terms of knowledge management support and
these results were fully complementary with the previous results for long-term goals (Figure 5) as well as
deployment facilitators (Figure 6).
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Source: made by the author
Figure 7: Knowledge management activities in an Agile transformation process (weighted)
Very important knowledge repositories were: pilot deployment solution and customer’s feedback, e.g. demo
presentations (12%). Improvement of the overall knowledge sharing is yet another important activity that has
to be taken in closely collaborating, multidisciplinary teams. In particular, inter-teams knowledge sharing was
an issue observed in large-sized enterprises as a part of a project management scalability issue (40%
occurrences). An effective knowledge-sharing is closely related to the development of a learning organizational
culture, which is the key requirement for the knowledge management context of an Agile transformation
process.
Source: made by the author
Figure 8: Knowledge management actions within an Agile transformation process
Figure 8 presents knowledge management activities in an Agile transformation process from another (non-
weighted) perspective. As shown, the training and enhanced learning activities were very important in at least
75% of the case studies. Additionally, it was suggested to classify quite many Agile-specific activities and
artefacts to knowledge management actions, e.g.: planning, retrospectives, stand-ups, prioritization, planning
boards, burn-down charts and definition of done.
Based on the details of the case studies, some additional knowledge management aspects were identified:
In-depth education of all stakeholders was required to proceed with planned organizational changes.
Agile project management implementation allowed for new learning and development.
Managers have changed their mindset and behaviour from command and control to coaching and
mentoring, being responsible for engaging with staff and driving the cultural change.
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Established change agents, community of practice and continuous education – Agile is complex to
deploy though it may seem simple.
Management leadership team active support is a must through the entire process deployment.
5. Discussion and conclusions
The empirical research results presented in the paper as well as in the literature research review confirmed
that an effective knowledge management is the key predecessor and facilitator of an Agile transformation
process. Issues, challenges and facilitators presented in author’s research study (Figure 5-7) revealed a couple
of knowledge management aspects which need to be addressed, including: a learning organizational culture,
training and workshops, coaching and mentoring, Agile coaches and experts, community of practice, change
agents and supporting teams. Similar aspects were also raised by other research studies in the context of a
successful Agile transformation deployment (Laanti et al., 2011; Cegarra-Navarro et al., 2016; Dikert et al.,
2016; Gregory et al., 2016). Potential actions mitigating knowledge management issues (Figure 8) were
concentrated on the appropriate training and on intensified learning activities. An inadequate and
dysfunctional training and lack of training were the key Agile transformation impediments identified by
Gandomani & Nafchi (2015; 2016). Denning (2016) and Appelbaum et al. (2017) literature research reviews
disclosed several potential actions potentially mitigating transformation failures. Figure 6 as well as other
papers (Clanon, 1999; Paasivaara & Lassenius, 2014; Dikert et al., 2016) highlighted the importance of a
community of practice as an informal knowledge body empowering transition process deployment.
Research results indicated that a learning organizational culture and a continuous learning process are
mandatory and need to be supported by a management executive prior to any Agile transformation
deployment. This finding has had strong advocacy in organizational learning theory what was confirmed by
review of other research studies (Clanon, 1999; Sanz-Valle et al., 2011; Mayer, 2013; Cha et al., 2015; Imran et
al., 2016), especially in project-based companies (Koskinen, 2012).
The effective knowledge management is an antecedent of a successful Agile transformation process
deployment in large-sized companies. The primary pre-conditions and facilitators of knowledge management
include: continuous training and workshops, coaching and mentoring, Agile coaches and experts’ support, a
community of practice, change agents, a supporting executive team and learning organizational culture. The
knowledge management issues and challenges impeding a successful transition process are related to: invalid
or inadequate training, insufficient coaching and mentoring, Agile training limited to project teams without
including its management and executives, lack of knowledge repositories and supporting tools, missing
knowledge-sharing practises and problem with development of a learning organizational culture. Appropriate
training and increased learning activities are the major activities mitigating issues related to the risk of failures
in the Agile transformation process. Agile-specific activities and artefacts such as planning, retrospectives,
stand-ups, prioritization, planning boards, burn-down charts and a definition of done are equipped with
knowledge-sharing properties and embedded in it by default.
The Agile project management deployment might be a trigger to the whole company development understood
as an organizational learning process leading enterprises to better position in a competitive business
environment. The executive management and project team leaders play a very important role as they have to
change their mindset and behaviour from command and control to the coaching and mentoring role as well as
to continuously drive development of learning organizational culture. Agile coaches, champions, change agents
and community of practice are knowledge sources comprised with practitioners and enthusiasts that may
decrease the complexity of deployment and mitigate the risk of a transition failure. The support of the entire
management leadership team is necessary through and after the deployment process. The major Agile
transformation challenge is to introduce a continuous learning process as a part of the learning organizational
culture and it is an interesting and great opportunity for the future research studies.
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... An agile coach's job is to help introduce and guide one or more teams in how to use agile methodologies such as Scrum and Kanban. One of the tasks of an agile coach is to facilitate and support the organization during their agile transformation [49,50]. The coaches work on changing the mentality of managers [18]. ...
... Select a pilot project 2 [16,51] Develop and Train the Teams. The primary role or duty of an agile coach, is building teams by providing realistic support during implementation of agile processes [50], leading the team toward self-organization [23]. Also, to help the team explore their potential and to foster self-organization, they teach techniques such as Open Space and Brainwriting [54]. ...
... Furthermore, they should have a range of traits supporting these skills such as positivity, persistence and patience [17,40]. [14,17,18,40,43,54,57] Project management skills 4 [17,37,40,51] Expertise in agile methods and practices 4 [40,50,55,57] Technical skills 3 [24,40,46] Other 2 [18,24] Second, an agile coach must have some project management skills to achieve goals and meet success criteria at specified times such as skills in change management [40], expertise to facilitate identification and management of risks in the system [37], knowledge management skills [51] and the ability to help teams make more realistic estimates [17]. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
There has been a recent increase in the use of agile coaches in organizations. Although the use of the job title is popular, empirical knowledge about the tasks, responsibilities and skills of an agile coach is lacking. In this paper, we present a systematic literature review on agile coaching and the role of the agile coach. The initial search resulted in a total of 209 studies identified on the topic. Based on our inclusion and exclusion criteria, a total of 67 studies were selected as primary studies. Our findings suggest that agile coaching facilitates the adoption and sustainability of agile methods and deals with agile adoption challenges. Agile coaches help in training and developing software development teams and all the stakeholders involved in the agile adoption process. The primary skills of an agile coach identified herein are leadership qualities, project management skills, technical skills, and expertise in agile methods. Based on the findings, it can be argued that agile coaches play a significant role in addressing challenges in an agile transformation such as resistance to change. Coaches focus on removing barriers to team autonomy in agile teams and making agile meetings more valuable.
... Knowledge is one of the building blocks for an organization's success and acts as a survival strategy in this knowledge era (Renukappa et al., 2020;Renukappa, Hanouf, & Suresh, 2019;Suresh, Olayinka, Chinyio, & Renukappa, 2017). Paterek (2017) noted that organizational knowledge is a value of learning from the theoretical perspective and KM is a value from a practical standpoint. Lin and Hwang (2014) indicated that knowledge resources reside in employees' minds and organizations have to utilize this valuable resource for their competitive advantage. ...
... However, cultural change management is a complicated task; its precise nature in smart-city development and the strategies to be adopted remain underspecified. Paterek (2017) noted that new project management methodologies adapted to complex and dynamically changing business environments and market competition are needed. The author states that introducing new project management methodologies results in organizational changes in technology, methodology, processes, strategy, and organizational culture. ...
... According to Paterek (2017), the organizational learning process is necessary to continuously introduce innovations and keep pace with organizational development. Organizational culture is the key determinant of both learning and technical innovation. ...
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... An agile coach's job is to help introduce and guide one or more teams in how to use agile methodologies such as Scrum and Kanban. One of the tasks of an agile coach is to facilitate and support the organization during their agile transformation [49,50]. The coaches work on changing the mentality of managers [18]. ...
... Select a pilot project 2 [16,51] Develop and train the teams. The primary role or duty of an agile coach, is building teams by providing realistic support during implementation of agile processes [50], leading the team toward self-organization [23]. Also, to help the team explore their potential and to foster self-organization, they teach techniques such as Open Space and Brainwriting [54]. ...
... Furthermore, they should have a range of traits supporting these skills such as positivity, persistence and patience [17,40]. [57,40,50,55] Technical skills 3 [40,46,24] Other 2 [18,24] Second, an agile coach must have some project management skills to achieve goals and meet success criteria at specified times such as skills in change management [40], expertise to facilitate identification and management of risks in the system [37], knowledge management skills [51] and the ability to help teams make more realistic estimates [17]. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
There has been a recent increase in the use of agile coaches in organizations. Although the use of the job title is popular, empirical knowledge about the tasks, responsibilities and skills of an agile coach is lacking. In this paper, we present a systematic literature review on agile coaching and the role of the agile coach. The initial search resulted in a total of 209 studies identified on the topic. Based on our inclusion and exclusion criteria, a total of 67 studies were selected as primary studies. Our findings suggest that agile coaching facilitates the adoption and sustainability of agile methods and deals with agile adoption challenges. Agile coaches help in training and developing software development teams and all the stakeholders involved in the agile adoption process. The primary skills of an agile coach identified herein are leadership qualities, project management skills, technical skills, and expertise in agile methods. Based on the findings, it can be argued that agile coaches play a significant role in addressing challenges in an agile transformation such as resistance to change. Coaches focus on removing barriers to team autonomy in agile teams and making agile meetings more valuable.
... The project team Agile transition process (Jovanović et al., 2017;Denning, 2018a;2018b) is also specific for each individual context of the project organization (Cabała, 2016;Hofman, 2018). The most important contextual enablers of the Agile transition process from the project team and project organization perspective are: knowledge management processes and training (Spałek, 2013;Wyrozębski;Gandomani, Nafchi, 2016;Paterek, 2017b), human resources management and development (Dikert et al., 2016;Denning, 2018b), organizational culture (Paterek, 2016;Solinski, Petersen, 2016;Hoda, Noble, 2017) and governance of the entire project organization in all its aspects not only from project management methodology (Kuura, Blackburn, Lundin, 2014;. The Agile transformation process is complex due to scaling required in large organizations as it often faces barriers and limitations when integrating with the existing project team's (Gregory et al., 2016) and the organization's governance, subjective measurement of its results (Gandomani, Nafchi, 2014) and very long period of its deployment (Laanti et al., 2011;Denning, 2016;Dikert et al., 2016). ...
... The empirical research results presented in the paper come as a part of the more comprehensive research study regarding the Agile transformation, partially presented in previous papers (Paterek, 2017a;2017b;; however, without the project team's specific changes and conclusions regarding team values. ...
... From the holistic and the system perspective approach note that the whole Agile transformation process and identified organizational changes (Fig. 1, Fig. 2) are unique for a given project team and project organization context, in particular in terms of delivery of project team values (Tab. 1) which strongly relate to the Agile mindset in a given project organization (Gandomani, Nafchi, 2014;Denning, 2016;2018a;Ravichandran, 2018). The most important project team's enablers for Agile transformation changes are related to: human resources management & development (Gandomani, Nafchi, 2016;Denning, 2018b), organizational culture (Gandomani, Nafchi, 2015;Paterek, 2016;Hoda, Noble, 2017), knowledge management (Gandomani, Nafchi, 2016;Paterek, 2016, Paterek, 2017b and overall project organization governance (Kuura, Blackburn, Lundin, 2014;Gregory et al., 2016;. ...
... The project team Agile transition process (Jovanović et al., 2017;Denning, 2018a;2018b) is also specific for each individual context of the project organization (Cabała, 2016;Hofman, 2018). The most important contextual enablers of the Agile transition process from the project team and project organization perspective are: knowledge management processes and training (Spałek, 2013;Wyrozębski;Gandomani, Nafchi, 2016;Paterek, 2017b), human resources management and development (Dikert et al., 2016;Denning, 2018b), organizational culture (Paterek, 2016;Solinski, Petersen, 2016;Hoda, Noble, 2017) and governance of the entire project organization in all its aspects not only from project management methodology (Kuura, Blackburn, Lundin, 2014;Joslin, Müller, 2016). The Agile transformation process is complex due to scaling required in large organizations as it often faces barriers and limitations when integrating with the existing project team's (Gregory et al., 2016) and the organization's governance, subjective measurement of its results (Gandomani, Nafchi, 2014) and very long period of its deployment (Laanti et al., 2011;Denning, 2016;Dikert et al., 2016). ...
... The empirical research results presented in the paper come as a part of the more comprehensive research study regarding the Agile transformation, partially presented in previous papers (Paterek, 2017a;2017b;; however, without the project team's specific changes and conclusions regarding team values. ...
... From the holistic and the system perspective approach note that the whole Agile transformation process and identified organizational changes (Fig. 1, Fig. 2) are unique for a given project team and project organization context, in particular in terms of delivery of project team values (Tab. 1) which strongly relate to the Agile mindset in a given project organization (Gandomani, Nafchi, 2014;Denning, 2016;2018a;Ravichandran, 2018). The most important project team's enablers for Agile transformation changes are related to: human resources management & development (Gandomani, Nafchi, 2016;Denning, 2018b), organizational culture (Gandomani, Nafchi, 2015;Paterek, 2016;Hoda, Noble, 2017), knowledge management (Gandomani, Nafchi, 2016;Paterek, 2016, Paterek, 2017b and overall project organization governance (Kuura, Blackburn, Lundin, 2014;Gregory et al., 2016;Joslin, Müller, 2016). ...
... One of the main features of the 21st century is change. Globalization of markets, technical and technological developments, rapid growth of access to technology as well as changes in the characteristics, expectations and job skills of human resources, changes in the payroll system, increasing competition in the business world, environmental changes, increasing Organizational social responsibility, resource constraints, increasing customer expectations and changes in their demands indicate fundamental changes in the current century (Paterek, 2017). Such instability in the present age has profound effects on organizations. ...
... Considerable research has been devoted to point out agile success factors (e.g. management support, customized agile approach, piloting, training, agile coach, communication and transparency, mindset and alignment, team autonomy, culture of continuous learning, and community of practice [2,13]) and agile benefits (e.g. increase in quality, transparency, collaboration, productivity and alignment [16,17]. However, one concern is that most of these success factors and benefits are identified from experience reports that have a tendency to emphasize positive views [2]. ...
Chapter
Over the past decade, agile scaling concepts in organizations have gained considerable momentum and renewed attention especially from business practice . While agility has its roots in software development, the concept of agile at scale aims at more generally applying agile practices in organizations across different industries. Academic research is serving this development in different disciplines, most notably the management and information systems fields. This short paper takes stock of the last 12 years of scholarly research by developing a systematic content analysis of 26 case studies dealing with agile scaling concepts in the context of digital transformation. In the attempt to narrow the gap between research and practice, we focus on case studies as a strategic research methodology providing rich insights of complex real-life processes such as agile scaling. The findings synthesize the current state of knowledge in this regard and offer new research avenues contributing to the present agile scaling discourse.
Chapter
One of the central tasks of process improvement is to deal with changing environmental conditions, and organizational training is crucial for this purpose. The software industry is one such dynamic and ever-changing environment. However, knowledge dissemination and ongoing learning is an open challenge in this industry, especially in agile organizations where continuous learning is essential. This paper has two aims: 1) investigate and report the state of organizational training practice in the agile software development setting; 2) identify relevant issues to be considered by agile organizations addressing the organizational training process. To do this, we conducted a systematic mapping of the literature to provide an overview of how agile organizations plan, perform, and assess their training activities as part of their continuous learning process. Compared with other agile software development domains, the literature on this topic is scant, but we were able to derive relevant results related, for example, to the most popular training techniques or training coordination mechanisms. We also identified some evidence gaps concerning how organizations plan training, how they use training records, and how they assess and improve training processes. The paper concludes by presenting eight important issues that cover the different organizational training activities and that provide valuable insights to effectively share knowledge in agile settings.
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Purpose Planned episodic change programs, rigid processes and traditional structures, optimized for efficiency rather than agility, are no longer appropriate in a context where competitive advantage is fueled by high-speed innovation, supported by a more entrepreneurial mindset. The purpose of this two part paper is to offer a review of relevant research to provide an informed case for continuous strategic transformation facilitated by enhanced organizational agility. The concept of agility is explored, defined and a framework for categorizing agility-enhancing capabilities is presented. Specific aspects of this agility framework are examined to better understand how these interrelated competencies contribute to overall corporate performance in this fast-paced world. Design/methodology/approach A range of published empirical and practitioner research articles were reviewed to study the concepts of organizational agility and transformation as critical factors contributing to sustained competitive advantage, organizational performance and survival in the increasingly competitive global context. This literature review explores how organizations are overcoming the challenges imposed by their traditional structures, cultures and leadership models and identifies dynamic competencies to be developed to achieve a greater level of corporate agility. Findings Increased organizational agility increases the ability to respond proactively to unexpected environmental changes. The commitment to continuous transformation and agile strategies implies changes at all levels of the organization from its structure, through its leadership and decision-making dynamics, down to the skills and interpersonal relationships of the individuals implementing the agile mission. Research limitations/implications There is a gap in the literature with respect to agility, namely, that most research focuses on the characteristics of agile organizations, with little attention given to how to develop agile capabilities and embed the commitment to continuous change deep into the corporate DNA, beyond the process level, into the psyche of the people driving the organization. Practical implications Managers should consider agility as an overarching principle guiding strategic and operational activities. Fostering agility-enhancing capabilities will be paramount in ensuring the successful integration of agility as a performance enhancing paradigm. Social implications For small- and medium-sized companies with limited resources, this reality makes staying relevant an uphill battle but also opens windows of opportunity. The challenge of the next century for large organizations will be to rekindle their innovative agile beginnings and for start-ups to continue to foster their dynamic capabilities as they grow. Originality/value The paper provides practical and empirical evidence of the importance of enterprise agility and specific dynamic capabilities on firm performance.
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to challenge how we have traditionally thought about organisations and introduce two frameworks to enable us to understand how change in organisations might be facilitated better. Design/methodology/approach The paper discusses organisations as complex adaptive systems and uses complexity theory to inform two new frameworks for facilitating organisational learning and change. Findings In order for organisational learning to occur we need to change our mind-set of how we see organisations and to think of learning not just as individual but also as generative “communicative action” that emerge out of collaborative relationships. Research limitations/implications The frameworks proposed are grounded in organisational learning literature and the experience of the author. The proposed agenda for organisational learning has yet to be acted upon and evaluated. Practical implications The frameworks can be used to enhance understanding of learning and change in organisations. The agenda for enabling organisational transformation identifies key steps to put the ideas developed in the paper into practice. Social implications The approach advocated for use within organisations is one of empowerment and collaboration rather than top down direction. Originality/value The paper introduces new frameworks and a practical agenda to bring about organisational transformation through work-applied learning.
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Agile methods have become an appealing alternative for companies striving to improve their performance, but the methods were originally designed for small and individual teams. This creates unique challenges when introducing agile at scale, when development teams must synchronize their activities, and there might be a need to interface with other organizational units. In this paper we present a systematic literature review on how agile methods and lean software development has been adopted at scale, focusing on reported challenges and success factors. We conducted a systematic literature review of industrial large-scale agile transformations. Our keyword search found 1875 papers. We included 52 publications describing 42 industrial cases presenting the process of taking large-scale agile development into use. 90% of the included papers were experience reports, indicating a lack of sound academic research on the topic. We identified 35 reported challenges grouped into nine categories, and 29 success factors, grouped into eleven categories. The most salient success factor categories were management support, choosing and customizing the agile model, training and coaching, and mindset and alignment.
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Purpose The transformation of firms from resource-based-view to knowledge-based-view has extended the importance of organizational learning. Thus, this study aims to develop an organizational learning model through transformational leadership with indirect effect of knowledge management process capability and interactive role of knowledge-intensive culture. Design/methodology/approach Different statistical analyses were done to check the direct, indirect and interactive effects on 204 valid responses. Findings The results are clearly depicting that transformational leadership has significant positive impact on organizational learning and knowledge management process capability, and partially mediates the relationship between transformational leadership and organizational learning. Additionally, knowledge-intensive culture has strengthened the relationship between transformational leadership and knowledge management process capability. Originality/value This is an overarching and unique conceptual model. After examining the importance of organizational learning in the context of innovative ability, competitive advantage, creativity and organizational performance, management has to initiate steps to induct transformational leaders, develop knowledge-intensive culture and introduce knowledge management processes to boost learning environment in organizations.
Chapter
This chapter explores how psychological learning theories have been used in the development of theories about organizational learning through a comparative four-quadrant framework or typology, which allows to compare and contrast significant themes along the defined parameters. By utilizing the four-quadrant typology, the key aspects of individual learning theory are explored. Then, the theories connected with organizational learning, particularly, those which are either drawn from or have strong parallels with psychological traditions are discussed. This way of assessing the various literatures offers a structure for comparing theoretical perspectives across the levels of analysis and taking into account different paradigms. The emotional factors in learning at the level of both the individual and the organization are discussed, which suggests that there may be scope in bringing together organizational learning and emotional intelligence literatures.
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Purpose Agile is the umbrella term for a family of management practices, which include Scrum, Kanban, and Lean. To investigate Agile management as it was being practiced in large firms, in 2015 Scrum Alliance, whose mission is “to transform the world of work,” launched a Learning Consortium for the Creative Economy (LC), composed of a group of firms that included Microsoft, Ericsson, Magna International, Riot Games and others. Design/methodology/approach The group conducted site visits to learn from each other’s experiences with Agile. The questions to be explored included: To what extent are Agile management practices in fact occurring at scale in old and new firms? How effective are these management practices? Is it possible for the whole firm, particularly older firms with entrenched bureaucratic cultures, to become Agile? Findings The LC found that Agile management is already taking hold in large-scale implementations in both new and old firms. The LC observed that some firms were implementing Agile for large-scale, complex business challenges in areas beyond software, including operations where reliability is an issue. Practical implications Agile was seen as a different way of understanding and acting in the world. The successful firms were “being Agile,” not merely “doing Agile” within their existing management framework. Originality/value In the world of Agile management, delivering value to customers is the goal of every individual in the organization. Profits are seen as the result, not the goal. The Learning consortium sites visit offer managers an opportunity to study this philosophy in practice.
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Context: Agile software development continues to grow in popularity and is being adopted by more and more organizations. However, there is a need for empirical evidence on the impact, benefits and drawbacks of an agile transformation in an organization since the cost for such a transformation in terms of money, disrupted working routines and quality of development can become considerable. Currently, such evidence exists in the form of success stores and case studies, mostly of qualitative nature.