Make your transformation healthy!

healthy agile transformation

Any agile transformation is a challenge, for both the organization and its employees as individuals. Therefore it is critical to secure each agile transformation step during your planning process in order for it to be successful. This post gives you some practical hints for doing that so that the organization stays healthy.

Many of you have been part of an agile transformation, or at least what started as one. But we all know that such a venture is not always “on track” nor does it lead to the expected results.

Stay well during stress

There are many reasons for failure. One is definitely the stress that any change within the organization or even individual employees will cause. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to think about the stress that can arise with each planned transformation step. How can responsible managers ensure that the stress level remains within manageable limits and that every single step leads to success? How can employees who are affected by a transformation step stay healthy?

The concept of Salutogenesis

Aaron Antonovsky, an Israeli-American sociologist, researched on the above question and invented the term Salutogenesis:

Salutogenesis is a medical approach focusing on factors that support human health and well-being, rather than on factors that cause disease.


Antonovsky did not believe that people are either ill or well. Instead, he saw each individual person on a continuum between illness and wellness during his or her whole life. Influencing factors produce either stress (GRD) or resistance (GRR) in each individual.

Illness-Wellness Continuum

Sence of coherence

In his theoretical formulation of ‚ÄúSense of coherence” Antonovsky provided a comprehensive explanation for the role of stress in human life. His concept is based on three components:

  • Comprehensibility: a belief that things happen in an orderly and predictable fashion and a sense that you can understand events in your life and reasonably predict what will happen in the future.
  • Manageability: a belief that you have the skills or ability, the support, the help, or the resources necessary to take care of things, and that things are manageable and within your control.
  • Meaningfulness: a belief that things in life are interesting and a source of satisfaction, that things are really worthwhile and that there is good reason or purpose to care about what happens.

Sense of Coherence

Practical use

Given this theoretical knowledge, how can this be practically used in real life?

Here’s a practice I used as agile coach in agile transformations which might give you some guidance in what to take into account before you actually perform a certain transformation step.

1. Prepare your intended transformation step

Whichever phase of your transformation you are in, there is always a next transformation step that you need to prepare. Do this with all the care and experience you have as an agile coach, together with the transformation team you might have at hand.

2. Collect influencing factors

In this step you collect factors that have a potentially negative or positive influence on the transformation step. Do this with representatives from the parts of the organization that will be most affected by the change. These can be certain development teams, the PO team, individuals with certain key competencies such as testing or architecture or even Scrum Masters.

A good way to collect these factors is to position them in this map, although the map itself is not mandatory:

Influencing Factor Map

After you have collected factors that might influence the success of your transformation step, you can prioritize them according to its severeness or impact. You can use this prioritization in your next step if you collected many factors.

3. Find action points

In the third step you should discuss per influencing factor, which measures can be found that amplify a resisting factor or minimize the effects of a stress factor. In principle, it works in a similar way to a retrospective.

During the discussion of the potential measures, always ask yourself, if the three components in Antonovsky’s model for “Sense of Coherence”, ie. comprehensibility, manageability and meaningfulness are covered with it.

4. Execute the transformation step with measures

The final step is of course to execute the planned transformation step. But also perform the action points next to it in parallel. This will improve the success of your agile transformation!

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