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Insights / Blog / Agility & Organisation

Agile Adults - Training alone is not enough

March 26, 2024
Dirk AlthausDirk AlthausManager Strategic Initiatives

Agile Adults - Training allein reicht nicht aus

Telecommunication companies are constantly looking for new ways to better understand customer needs and to deliver personalized experiences that drive loyalty and satisfaction. Popular concepts for gaining insights into customer behavior and preferences are personas and digital twins. Personas provide a humanized and simplified fictional representation of customer segments, while digital twins are virtual replicas of physical objects or systems that can simulate their behavior.

However, there are limitations to these approaches, including privacy concerns, especially when creating individual digital twins which represent specific customers. This is where Digital Persona Twins come in, bridging the gap between personas and digital twins while addressing the privacy concerns associated with them.

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After winning the tender, the employees of this consulting firm are promptly registered for various trainings at the aforementioned specialized agile service provider. This provider had also submitted a bid but did not win the contract. However, the large consulting firm itself does not have enough consultants with the required competencies for the desired transformational performance of the client.

The consultants, now quickly trained and certified by the competitor and actual bearer of know-how, then begin conducting the trainings and workshops outlined in the framework for the client. The first task is to establish the team composition in order to minimize dependencies between the development streams of individual teams.

Dirk Althaus

Dirk Althaus

Strategic Initiatives Manager / AOE
As a consequence for the company structure, this means that conflicts that have already occurred and continue to occur within the areas and departments can no longer be resolved by the departments themselves but only become visible through the interaction of team members.

Team Composition

The composition of the teams, advocated by the consultants, remains within the boundaries of the client's departments and areas. It is likely that the self-preservation forces of the client's system/organization were underestimated by the consultants, who are often inexperienced in the agile domain. The actual objective of the workshops, to create team architecture with minimal dependencies between teams, was not achieved or only achieved superficially (see also "Value Stream and ART Identification Workshop"). The fact that dependencies between teams will hinder them was neglected against the backdrop of steps successfully completed in the transformation roadmap. The contractor fulfills its mandate by leading through the workshop and training series coherently, but unfortunately only considers formal aspects.

Furthermore, the handling of conflicts arising from resistance and self-preservation forces within the organization is not carried out. There were certainly good reasons to develop the companies towards agility. While role holders receive new names for their roles, they are still able to perform the same tasks and make the same decisions as before, as are the areas and departments. While the system formally changes towards flexibility, in reality, it merely receives a new packaging...

Unfortunately, some other changes occur that are not insignificant but do not immediately become visible. In the seemingly beautiful new agile world, role holders gradually lose their rights and responsibilities. For example, they lose the right to collaborate with teams to self-organize the development strategy for the product. Role holders also lose the duty to take care of the development of individual employees and/or entire teams, to nurture and challenge them, to establish alignment, to mitigate conflicts and risks, and ultimately to lead in a way that employees and teams are willing to continue to follow.

As a consequence for the company structure, this means that conflicts that have already occurred and continue to occur within the areas and departments can no longer be resolved by the departments themselves but only become visible through the interaction of team members. Unfortunately, it is impossible to resolve them at the team level. So, the teams are faced with conflicts that were previously processed between the organizational boundaries, without having the means, mandates, or opportunities to heal them.

What does the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) say?

SAFe recommends the use of a so-called LACE team (Lean Agile Center of Excellence) at this point to address these challenges. The LACE team is a body responsible for continuous improvement within these structures, a kind of Scrum Master body, consisting of a mentor for the Agile Release Train (ART), experienced consultants, the Release Train Engineer, as well as decision-makers from the conventional environment, possibly including an HR and/or BR representative. In our previous practical example, such a LACE team was unfortunately not utilized.

This led to the desired effects of the agile transformation, namely the drastic reduction of time to market and an increase in employee satisfaction, not being realized. There are neither competitive advantages nor has an environment been created for the employees where they can express their satisfaction with the work through loyalty, employee retention, and intrinsic motivation. The desired goal was completely missed, as initially, a service provider was chosen who lacks sufficient practical experience in the field of agile principles.

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