With 2019 almost over, we wanted to look at themes we’ve seen emerging over the past year.   Specifically when organisations are adopting New Ways of Working.

We’ve seen Transformational Change within business with disruptive environments  elevated to new heights in 2019.   In the last  12 to 18 months, we identified a pivot in how many organisations are adopting Agile.

ADAPTOVATE now has offices in several territories around the world.   We’ve found that although the cultures may differ slightly,  and the types of businesses looking for transformational change vary, some things are very consistent. It’s the emerging themes we’ve identified this year.

In the first part of our three part series, we are looking at these themes, and what trends we see coming in 2020.

It goes without saying that ADAPTOVATE believe companies that adopt new ways of working, achieve immediate positive outcomes.   Including employee morale,  increased productivity, better ROI.  Transformational change however, needs to be set up the right way in order to achieve the exceptional success that Agile methodology can bring to large organisations.

If you’re an organisation, or in a team looking to lead an organisation through this type of scaled change in 2020,  you will find these themes of interest and food for thought.    Some have been challenges that have emerged, while others are unexpected outlier outcomes.

So here are the 8 themes we’ve identified:


Alan Trivedi,  is a project lead with ADAPTOVATE in the US.  He says “Organizations often find challenges in translating the missions/vision of their projects to value increments.”    It’s one thing for a leader to want  to change , but to commit, implement, and follow through is key.  But first define what success looks like.

He explains “In an agile way of working, they must follow the vision with a definition of what success looks like, why it is important, and in what way does it benefit the organization.

Successfully answering these questions supports project teams in defining and completing the work with agility.” He says.

Organizations wanting to achieve agility should not overlook or rush through the success discussions prior to engaging the delivery teams.



When researching this article, we approached one of our co-founders for his thoughts.  Doug Ross is at the frontline of building a start-up.  He’s working with many companies who are in the midst of transformational change.

He’s also leading ADAPTOVATE in engaging large organizations around the globe,  who are embarking on scaling agile across their entire structure.  So what did Doug think was a key theme of 2019?

Alignment.   Or more specifically, the realisation that ALIGNMENT ON PURPOSE is crucial.

He says “Realisation that alignment on purpose is central to success in new or old ways of working. If people are not aligned on why they are doing something then they will struggle to succeed, or not deliver something that is successful.”

Of course understanding that alignment on purpose is crucial to transformation change succeeding, is not a new theme.    However what Doug has identified is the realisation  that without it – failure is very likely.   In 2019 – it’s been a wakeup call for many companies.

By adopting New Ways of Working within your organisation, allows you to ensure alignment on purpose is set at the start of process.  



Earlier this year we published an article on Agile being used across many industries.  It’s been one of our most popular in 2019,  as non-software teams and divisions embark on their own Agile transformations.   Mark Barber said in that article “Whilst the original Agile Manifesto was written for software development in 2001, Agile thinking has evolved to encompass much more.  If you consider that Agile is a mindset described by some core values and principles it makes sense that we can apply this in many industries and not just software development”.

It’s the reason why Chelsea Bates our Melbourne principal at ADAPTOVATE believes it’s a central theme in 2019.  She’s seen “the successful application of agile principles to support functions such as HR, Marketing and Risk. Agile is no longer just the domain of technology and product teams.



One of the most difficult questions a company that wants to introduce Agile and New Ways of Working at scale must answer is, top down or bottom up?

Steve Walton is in our ADAPTOVATE New York office, working with some large US companies introducing transformational change.  He says  “ By going bottom up, an organisation gets to test and learn with small experiments. Then tweaking the recipe to suit their specific context.”

He continues “This approach is great for getting things started, however as more changes occur, biggest questions like how to support staff personal development, provide the guardrails which enable autonomy and how to align the overall organisation to it’s mission.”

In our article earlier this year we discussed the 5 key challenges with agile @ scale and how to overcome them.   Two of the five challenges involved leadership.

Leadership should be able to recognise how and when to scale Agile.   Then get out of the way.   By engaging and utilising experts in Agile transformation, they must trust in the process.

Steve says “A top down approach enables a deliberate design tailored to the business strategy however may present as ‘another corporate reorganisation’ being imposed on the workforce. A big challenge I have seen in 2019 is for organisations to understand where their trigger point is.”

He continues “That point where it makes sense to pivot from small pilots, to implementing an overall design. Hopefully this is done with enough guidance to enable people to know what needs to be achieved, and enough autonomy to organise themselves.



A common theme for Agile transformations is, perhaps obviously, organisational structure and the responsibility of management within this new structure.

“Organisations where Agile is succeeding have broken down functional silos. This has organised people in cross-functional teams, commonly focused on smaller parts of the customer journey.” Mark Barber – our project lead in Melbourne ADAPTOVATE says.

He gives this example:

A bank may have a team that is focused on improving mobile bill payments for personal banking. Often, these teams work more closely with other teams whose focus is related to theirs. Our mobile bill payments team may work alongside a mobile bank transfer team. This team of teams collaborate and work together, often on the same operating rhythm.

He explainds “To support these cross-functional teams we shift to a different management model that enables autonomy in order to move faster by handing decisions over to the teams.

In this context, leadership teams need to focus on driving strong alignment so that teams are working together toward the right goals.

Cross-functional team autonomy means managers are more forward focused and strategic, rather than operational and tactical – which is exactly where we want our leaders to be!”



Agile is seen as key enabler of transformation and a potential source of competitive advantage in an increasingly digital world.

One of the most prevalent themes in 2019 is related to DevOps and its continuous development and integration practices” says Slawomir Koziol, from ADAPTOVATE’S European base in Warsaw.

He explains “More and more organizations realize that bringing the development and operations teams closer together significantly improves the pace of product creation.

With constant visibility of outcomes allowing for effective iterative investment, organizations are also embracing the cost-efficiency of this approach.



One of the broader talking points in the last few years is how to manage the large scale data sets. The ones  that are being accumulated through digital business,  personalisation and AI.

Agile methodology is very attractive for companies that need to quickly catch up with market trends  and their competitors. They do this by boosting their data science capabilites.  We’ve seen this use of Agile increase dramatically over the past 12 months and it’s for this reason – we see it as a key them for 2019.

Slawomir says “Companies are starting to look to Agile for more effective ways of using the enormous data sets they have and introducing data-based personalized customer offerings.”



Finally – ADAPTOVATE understands this point as well as any other organisation.  Not only do we work daily with global companies,  we ourselves have several offices around the world.

From our global perspective, we can see a key theme developing.   Where organizations are adopting and supporting Agile Ways of Working in distributed teams.

Earlier this year Paul McNamara, one of our co-founders and MD at ADAPTOVATE wrote an article “Can Agile work without co-located, dedicated teams?”.  In it he said “We need to find ways for large organizations to behave like start-ups, yet maintain their advantages of scale.  Yes, co-located and dedicated teams are ideal, but they’re not always possible, so we need to find ways to make it work.”   In the article he shares some strategies that allow large multi-nationals adopt new ways of working.

More and more organizations realize that the right approach and tools will enable effective collaboration across geographic boundaries. Which in today’s global economy can be critical for success. 


This is part one of our three part series looking back at 2019 and looking ahead at 2020.

Editor: Thank you to the ADAPTOVATE team contributors.  Always #teaming.

Slawek Koziol

Steve Walton

Mark Barber

Doug Ross

Paul McNamara

Chelsea Bates

Alan Trivedi

The Inner Story – Work Life Balance

The Inner Story 2019 series.

What’s the Inner Story series? These are the hidden stories from our The Back Story team interviews in 2019.  When we went back and looked at all our interviews over the past year we noticed some powerful themes surfacing.    So we thought what better way to count down to 2020 than share some of these with you.   



We asked our team how they balance work life with their ‘real’ life. Do they have a good balance and how important is it to them?


Caitilin Studdert -Project Lead, ADAPTOVATE, Australia.

Let’s not pretend, all of us have times where work / life is completely out of whack but fortunately I’ve had great leaders who have acknowledged how important it is to seek it constantly. When I’m involved with a client I obsess over learning about the company and industry because I’m a big believer in the power of preparation. In my ‘real life’ -my family is the bees knees. I run with them, burn perfectly good food with them by mistake, watch great quality trashy TV with them and adore our generous extended family. Without them, I wouldn’t be as gritty and imperfect.


Chelsea Bates – Principal, ADAPTOVATE, Australia.

The work life balance is great! I have time for regular exercise and time with family and friends. Work life balance is important as I believe you need a balance to be happy with both. Get the balance wrong in one direction and the other suffers.


Steve Walton – Project Lead, ADAPTOVATE, USA.

This year my life has been crazy in the most exciting of ways. I am someone who gets immersed in the work when they enjoy it and see the benefits of their effort. The last year and a half I have worked with someone exciting clients doing things that were going to change their thinking and internal interactions in a way which would enrich the working lives of their staff while simplifying their businesses. During the day I am fully present and work long days. I balance the long days with leaving my work behind when I finish the day. Spending time with those close to me is important to me. I am very thankful for video conferencing to let me be with them when I can’t be there in person.


Brigitte Odgers-Jewell – Project Lead, ADAPTOVATE, Singapore.

I’d describe it as work life integration. I’m a mother, wife, daughter, sister and have a full-time corporate career. It’s what I signed up to and it’s up to me to make it work. I work hard and I play hard, I love it! There are a few non-negotiables that get me down if skipped. I try to do 30 minutes of exercise and 10 minutes of meditation 5 days a week before touching any technology. I also try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Every now and then a demanding schedule throws a spanner in the works. Being disciplined to get back into routine is hard sometimes but I feel so much better for it. I’m so privileged to be able to go to some amazing holiday destinations around the world every year with my family. I make sure that the batteries are recharged and I’m ready for whatever opportunities await me. On the weekends when I’m home, I make sure I go for a run, long walks and cuddles with Roxy my dog and make time for romance.


Katy Hughes – Consultant, ADAPTOVATE, Australia.

Work / life balance is really important to me. Even throughout busy periods in work I try to maintain a good routine of

  1. Exercising – making sure I am able to exercise 3-4 times a week really helps me focus and release any stress!
  2. Working from the office instead of home – as much as possible I work from the office, even if it means staying late! This enables me to separate my home life from my office life
  3. Understanding and respecting my team’s commitments – at the beginning of each project, we get together as a team to outline our team norms, ways of working and commitments. Understanding these upfront and respecting them when they occur ensures the whole team have a good work /life balance!


Michal Bak – Principal, ADAPTOVATE, Poland.

I believe there is only one “life” – I don’t make a distinction between work life and personal life. I try to see my life as a whole and act upon it. That means that I take advantage of every moment and anything that my life brings to me, and at the same time relentlessly follow my passions.


Kayla Cartwright – Senior Consultant, ADAPTOVATE, USA.

I think I have a strong “balance”, probably because this is VERY important to me. I prefer to think about work-life “integration” instead of balance. If you can be part of an organization that aligns with your values and allows you to bring your true self to work, then integration is much easier. I’ve been happy to find that here at ADAPTOVATE so far. On a more tactical note, I prioritize and focus on outcomes so that I make sure I use my time wisely; I aim and usually get 8 hours of sleep and try to spend lots of time with my loved ones (including my pup!), usually enjoying good food, hiking or going to the beach.

You can read the full interviews with our team at THE BACK STORY