Although often used synonymously, the terms ‘Agile transformation’ and ‘Agile adoption’ refer to two different things. In this case, the distinguishing element to be aware of is scope. Agile adoption is more small-scale, while Agile transformation encompasses the entire organization.
Agile adoption refers to applying Agile processes, either to single projects or many projects across multiple departments. In essence, Agile adoption is the act of doing Agile. This may include adopting a vetted Agile framework, such as Scrum, Lean, or SAFe. Although making the switch to an Agile-focused development methodology can present certain hurdles, Agile adoption is relatively easy.
Agile transformation, on the other hand, is not as simple. It involves applying Agile principles on an organizational level, restructuring mindsets and overhauling company culture to encourage Agile behavior outside of specific projects. In other words, Agile transformation moves beyond ‘doing’ Agile, and into ‘being’ Agile.
Agile transformation requires more time and effort and relies on an organization’s ability to create their own manner of operating—a successful Agile transformation may be more difficult for established businesses than for those that are just getting started.