Winning Organizational Support for Agile

Posted by Marbenz Antonio on March 16, 2023

Rethink the way you organize your people – Agile by Design Inc.

As a proponent of Agile, they have usually attempted to promote the methodology and persuade others of its advantages. Nevertheless, they have come to recognize that merely using Agile jargon and catchphrases may not consistently be fruitful in convincing others. To effectively advocate for Agile, it’s crucial to grasp your audience’s perspective, communicate using their terminology, and recommend gradual, incremental adjustments when starting out.

1. Understand your audience

To successfully advocate for Agile, it’s crucial to comprehend the concerns and perspectives of your audience. This requires investing time to comprehend their identities, responsibilities, and primary objectives. By doing so, you can customize your message and demonstrate how Agile can specifically resolve the issues and meet the requirements that are relevant to them.

Responding to these five inquiries can help you customize your communication to align more effectively with your audience and create a more compelling argument for Agile methodologies.

  1. Who is the audience? Gaining knowledge about the demographics and job positions of your audience can aid in comprehending their concerns, obstacles, and primary objectives. For instance, if your audience comprises developers, they may be keen on learning about how Agile can enhance their effectiveness and output, whereas if they are managers, they may be more interested in how Agile can augment profits and ROI.
  2. What word resonates most with them? Being aware of the vocabulary and phrases that your audience is accustomed to and that resonate most with them can aid in effective communication. For instance, if your audience is well-versed with the term “Agile” and comprehends its significance, you can incorporate it seamlessly into your discussion. Conversely, if your audience is unfamiliar with the term, you may have to use alternative phrasing or descriptions to convey the essence of Agile.
  3. What are their goals? Grasping the aims and objectives of your audience can aid in harmonizing your communication with their primary objectives. For instance, if your audience seeks to enhance customer satisfaction, you can clarify how Agile can assist in accomplishing this by emphasizing customer participation and adaptability.
  4. What are some real-world examples you can leverage (bonus if it is your own organization)? Incorporating tangible scenarios and analogies can aid in clarifying intricate notions and concepts for your audience. This can enhance the accessibility and comprehensibility of your communication.
  5. What do they already know about Agility? Assessing their background knowledge by inquiring about their prior understanding can provide insights into their comprehension level and enable you to customize your communication accordingly. This can establish a shared foundation and facilitate building on their pre-existing knowledge while also covering the most significant information pertinent to their needs.

By comprehending your audience’s perspective, utilizing relevant terminology, and adjusting your message to correspond with their objectives, you can bolster your argument for Agile methodologies and heighten the likelihood of their acceptance within your organization.

2. Speak their language

One of the major obstacles in promoting Agile is that it frequently involves introducing a new lexicon and specialized terminology that can be perplexing and daunting for those who lack prior exposure to it. For instance, when discussing Scrum, a popular Agile framework, phrases like “Scrum Master,” “Product Owner,” and “Sprint” may be employed. Although these terms may be recognizable to Agile experts, they may hold little significance to others and result in misunderstandings or false impressions. Therefore, it’s advisable to use words and phrases that are more commonplace and relatable to your audience.

Below are some usually used business terminology and expressions that you could utilize instead:

  • continuous learning and improvement in place of retrospective
  • iteration in place of sprint or quarterly planning
  • inspect & adapt in place of retrospective
  • real-time status or predictability in place of the burndown chart
  • capacity planning instead of velocity
  • customer-centric instead of product owner
  • early-and-often feedback instead of sprint review or user acceptance testing
  • quarterly business review instead of portfolio Kanban
  • weighted prioritization instead of the weighted shortest job first or cost of delay
  • value delivery instead of the product increment
  • uncertainty and complexity instead of story points
  • the steering committee instead of a Lean-Agile center of excellence
  • professional communities or learning networks instead of communities of practice

Using familiar language and terminology can enhance communication and facilitate comprehension of Agile concepts and advantages for your audience. It also indicates that you have empathized with their viewpoint and are utilizing terminology that resonates with them. As a result, you can cultivate trust and reliability, which can enhance the likelihood that your message will be acknowledged and acted upon.

3. Suggest small incremental changes

Having an understanding of the organization’s willingness to change is just as crucial as speaking their language. While some clients may be ready for a complete overhaul, most organizations prefer to start with small changes. This may be due to a preference for proof of concept, change fatigue within the organization, or reluctance to make a full commitment.

Proposing gradual and manageable modifications can facilitate the transition and enable you to create a sense of progress. Commencing with small changes can assist your audience in gradually embracing Agile practices and cultivating an Agile mindset. By exhibiting success with these modest changes, you can inspire others to take notice and become more invested in driving the changes that you are advocating for.

Here are five simple adjustments that you can suggest to your audience to help them embrace Agile principles:

  1. Introduce a 15-minute daily team huddle: Regular communication and collaboration among team members are essential practices of Agile. A simple way to facilitate this is by suggesting the implementation of a daily stand-up meeting, commonly known as a Scrum meeting. Such meetings can aid in improving communication, alignment, and collaboration among team members.
  2. Prioritize customer feedback: You can motivate your team to actively seek and integrate customer feedback into their work, which can lead to delivering value that meets customer needs and increases their satisfaction.
  3. Experiment with an iterative approach: Propose to the team to experiment with a more iterative approach to their work by dividing larger projects into smaller, more manageable pieces and delivering functional software in short sprints. By doing so, teams can promptly adapt to changes and novel concepts, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction.
  4. Encourage continuous learning and improvement: Motivate the team members to regularly evaluate their work and discover ways to enhance their processes. This can be achieved through frequent retrospectives or other continuous improvement techniques.
  5. Emphasize customer value: Encourage your team to adopt a customer-centric approach by focusing on delivering value that aligns with the needs of the customers or stakeholders. By doing so, team members will have a better understanding of how their work impacts the customer and can prioritize their goals accordingly, ultimately leading to higher customer satisfaction.


Winning organizational support for Agile requires an understanding of the audience, their perspective, and the organizational appetite for change. It involves using relatable language and aligning the message with their priorities to build trust and credibility. It’s important to start with small, incremental changes to ease the transition build momentum, and demonstrate success to help drive the change. Encouraging regular communication, collaboration, customer feedback, iterative approaches, reflection, and customer value can all contribute to Agile adoption. Ultimately, winning organizational support for Agile requires a persistent and collaborative effort to create a culture of continuous learning and improvement.


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