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CEO Insights - How to Lead your Team through a Successful Agile Transformation

5 min read
Feb 11, 2020 1:03:00 PM

Modern CEOs should focus on transforming their organizations to be robust, Agile, and customer-centric. Enterprises that pursue Agile transformation initiatives report improved levels of productivity, foster innovative culture, and higher employee engagement. According to a research report released by Research and Markets, the U.S. enterprise agile transformation services market size was valued at $4,915.43 million in 2018 and projected to reach $18,189.32 million by 2026, registering a CAGR of almost 17.9%.


Leading large-scale Agile transformation can be a complex exercise even for senior leadership teams, and it requires making sweeping changes across the organization and within teams. Such initiatives cannot be accomplished without building efficient and reliable teams that work towards achieving common organizational goals. In this blog, we will look at how executive leadership and CEOs of large enterprise organizations can lead successful agile transformations:

Provide Strategic Direction

As enterprises embark on their Agile transformation journey, CEOs should start providing strategic direction to transform the organization’s culture and product delivery methods. In practice, having a crystal-clear vision, clarity of purpose and a practical plan enables teams to understand their top goals and priorities. Further, CEOs should often talk to their teams and make them realize what enables their organization to generate value and where they should be focusing their energies on to become a truly Agile organization.

Build the right teams at the top and assign crucial projects to these teams; having a dynamic team at the top can strongly influence the organization’s success. CEOs must ensure that their top teams are performing strongly as a business unit, and they should help them by eliminating significant obstacles for their teams, which results in fewer failed projects.

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Be Accessible and Open to Your Teams

As the senior-most leader, it is the CEO’s responsibility to be accessible and open to ideas shared by teams. They should be patient, persistent and provide access to the resources needed for their teams to perform effectively and achieve their business goals. Embarking on a full-scale Agile transformation is not an easy endeavour, CEOs should channel all their energies towards changing the mindsets and attitudes of their immediate teams and across the enterprise to yield positive results.

Also, CEOs should start interacting more often with their team members, plan out quarterly events, meet their team during coffee sessions or team lunches. Inculcate the culture of an open-door policy, which encourages employees to walk up to them to discuss their ideas. This helps remove the barriers between CEOs and their team members and encourages team members to be open and honest.

Encourage, Support & Empower Teams in Going Agile

As senior leaders, CEOs should start focusing on creating a positive environment at work by encouraging teams to contribute to the organization’s development. Initiating regular team meetings, facilitating joint problem-solving sessions and supporting team members to have a voice and opinion helps the team to feel confident and empowered. Additionally, CEOs should focus on bonding and building relationships with their teams, which would make their teams feel comfortable and connected to share their thoughts, processes and ideas, which is essential for team empowerment.

When teams are confident and feel empowered, they start taking initiatives that ultimately provide a boost to Agile transformation initiatives across organizations. Apart from this, CEOs should hand-pick a few self-directed Agile teams/team members who have great ideas, self-motivated and have a passion for working tirelessly towards achieving their goals to boost Agile transformation.

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Fostering Innovation and Collaboration

As the senior-most leader in an organization, CEOs can be highly effective and can have a substantial impact on the success of Agile transformation initiatives. A culture of innovation and collaboration is essential for the success of Agile initiatives, and innovation is not merely the adoption of new technology. It is about being open, creative, and collaborative. CEOs should start engaging with their teams regularly, answer their big questions on the organization-wide benefits, impact of the transformation, and how it’s going to affect them. Additionally, they should enable their teams to take bold and radical decisions in pursuit of achieving excellence and start highlighting them for their successes.

The success of Agile transformation projects comes by breaking internal silos and aligning teams to work more collaboratively. CEOs should start developing a work-culture where teams begin to pool their creative ideas, share knowledge and perspectives to enhance learning and focus on innovation. Forming an innovation team is a great idea to foster innovation across the organization. CEOs can encourage innovation by showing genuine interest in the projects their teams are pursuing, asking questions, showing their curiosity by closely monitoring the project’s progress. By showing genuine interest, CEOs can demonstrate the importance of the projects/initiatives their teams are pursuing.

CEOs should set positive examples by becoming early adopters and taking up small projects, which would foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork.

Learn, Adapt, and Grow at Speed

Creating an environment of active learning helps the organization grow at speed. CEOs should empower their teams to move faster, drive innovation, and prepare them to adapt to the dynamic business environment. Agile, by definition, is not static, CEOs should encourage their teams to continually focus on experimentation and apply new learning concepts to accelerate growth. Experimentation is a key that enables enterprises to grow and scale newer heights. CEOs should encourage their key team members to spend a certain percentage of their time to explore, experiment, and prototype new ideas that lead to innovation and growth.

CEOs should constantly be asking themselves whether they are enabling their teams to pursue active learning and helping them eventually grow to take bigger responsibilities

Scale and Improve

To pursue Agile transformation initiatives across the organization, CEOs need to have a clear vision and be prepared to implement innovative strategies and keep improvising until they achieve their Agile transformational goals. To scale up, CEOs should acquire the right type of employees (talented) to create effective teams. They should work closely with their teams to identify problems that are holding them from scaling and provide practical solutions to eliminate these roadblocks.

Additionally, as CEOs, they should consistently review progress made by their teams, identify priorities and determine the next course of action. Increasing the number of agile teams can be an essential step to improve the agility of an organization.


Embarking on Agile transformation activity without transforming the mindsets and behaviors of teams will not yield significant business results. Agile transformation is not just a new way of working, but a transformational shift in attitude, behavior, and thinking. The support of senior leadership is significant for the success of Agile transformation projects. Investing in the right teams/individuals, combined with a clear vision, will serve as a foundation upon which the enterprise can implement Agile transformation initiatives.

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