Agile

6 Reasons Why Agile Fails For Hierarchical Organizations

A look at the conditions that enable successful agile organizations and the reasons why it fails

Rameez Kakodker
8 min readApr 16, 2022

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Recently, I was discussing why SAFe (which is not Agile) feels safe for corporate organization. As of 2021, SAFe growth has increased steadily:

Safe has grown 17% from the 9–14th State of Agile. 15th SoA (src) and Compilation(src)

And, make no mistake — I am a firm decrier of SAFe — it is possible to see reason why SAFe is comfortable for larger organizations: it has so many ceremonies and upward reporting that it is almost like Waterfall in Agile clothing:

The Big Bad Wolf Will Make Your Problems Go Away!

To be fair, having read the fundamental considerations in SAFe, it’s not a bad framework — it’s just implemented, represented and understood wrongly.

Without diving too deep into SAFe, and making this yet-another-anti-SAFe article, I’m going to talk about why Agile fails in big orgs — where there are layers on layers of management — and how can an org leader reduce the chances of failure.

To do that, let’s first understand what makes Agile thrive in organizations.

Successful Agile Adoption Environments

There are essentially 3 things Agile needs to succeed from the organization (apart from people having a steady head and a product thinking mindset):

1. Empowered teams

Empowering a team basically means trusting them to achieve the bigger organization goals. This means, as a leader, you’re to specify the mission and ensure that there are no blockers to the team to achieve the mission. This also means they can do what’s right for the customer and the business, as long as it falls within their purview.

This also means you’ve to hire right — with great power comes great responsibility. If you hire wrong, people will fail you.

2. Sacrificing Long Term Predictability for Short Term Visibility

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Rameez Kakodker

100+ Articles on Product, Design & Tech | Top Writer in Design | Simplifying complexities at Majid Al Futtaim | rkakodker.com