Propagating Change Through the Organization

Learn how to pick the teams for phased adoption.

The Domino Change Model is useful for both planning an Agile adoption and diagnosing the causes of a stalled adoption.

There’s another aspect to adoption that’s not contained in that model, however, one related to problems in how organizations pilot Agile practices and how they then proceed to roll out the practices on a larger scale.

In contrast to the idealized rollout described at the beginning of this chapter, many organizations’ rollouts look more like this:

  • The organization commits to an Agile adoption.

  • The initial pilot team succeeds.

  • The second or third teams to adopt the changes stumble or fail—the teams fail outright, the team abandons the new practices and reverts to old practices, or no teams can be found that will follow the pilot team.

Why does this happen? You’re probably familiar with Geoffrey Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm” model as it applies to market adoption of innovative products (Moore, 1991). I’ve found that the same dynamic applies to adoption of innovations within organizations.

Moore’s model was based on seminal work by Everett Rogers in Diffusion of Innovation (Rogers, 1995). Because this discussion doesn’t depend on Moore’s notion of the “Chasm,” I’m going to concentrate on Rogers’ description.

In Rogers’ model, innovations are adopted from left to right across the categories of adopters shown here:

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