3 pitfalls in a transforming world Column in Marketing Tribune

Everyone has patterns in life. Checking your smartphone when you wake up. The first cup of java in the morning. Companies also have patterns. Habits. It's hard to break habits. Organisations that are undergoing a (digital) transformation and that want to become agile while letting go of the existing patterns and methods must also take full advantage of any transformation. So let's take a closer look at your (digital) transformation.

Have you already put in place multidisciplinary agile teams?

Good! But how does your business stand to benefit from this? Is your agile organisation delivering on its promises? When I look around me, I see that organisations do not respond better and faster to market changes in spite of all the changes they implemented. I see a lack of innovation and often the profit does not live up to the expectations. I have identified three pitfalls.

We can only deliver on the promise of agile working if we dare to let go of old habits and embrace the new.


  1. Firstly, agile teams often rely on existing structures and KPIs. They are still organised according to a traditional model and ditto targets. As a result, team members don’t work towards shared goals but focus instead on the targets of their specific department or manager. This gives rise to different agendas and priorities, resulting in a lack of joint commitment and focus.
  2. Secondly, employees in agile teams are also asked to continue their old habits and activities. They are still expected to deliver standard reports and annual plans. Because management is used to this. Obviously, having a good idea of which objective you are all working towards is a good thing. But the rhythm of an annual plan interferes with the pace of biweekly sprints, in which you constantly set new priorities.
  3. Thirdly, I have also noticed that agile teams interact with organisational units that are not agile. A situation that can continue as is. This does, however, also mean you should make agreements about how you will work with each other, something which organisations often fail to do. Just think of agile teams that are working on optimising customer journeys in the sales department. While they control some of the improvements themselves, most of the vital product and/or process changes take place on the organisation’s OPS/IT level, which works at a different pace and which sets different priorities based on other criteria. As a result, the customer journey is often suboptimal. A missed opportunity.

Letting go

Three pitfalls that are the outcome of sticking to patterns that are actually hinder you in what you do. Entrenched habits that may have yielded certainty, comfort and results in the past but which now form an obstacle in a rapidly changing world of transforming organisations. We can only deliver on the promise of agile working if we dare to let go of old habits and embrace the new. So instead of checking your phone just after waking up, maybe take some time to reflect and create the space for real transformation.

This column was also published in MarketingTribune magazine on 14 February 2017.

#agile #digitale transformation


Want to learn more about digital transformation? Contact Beate van Dongen-Crombags