Enterprise agility: A Balancing Act - a local government case study

Barroca, Leonor; Sharp, Helen; Dingsøyr, Torgeir; Gregory, Peggy; Taylor, Katie and AlQaisi, Raid (2019). Enterprise agility: A Balancing Act - a local government case study. In: Agile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming: 20th International Conference, Proceedings (Kruchten, Philippe; Fraser, Steven and Coallier, François eds.), Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, Springer, pp. 207–223.


Austerity and financial constraints have been threatening the public sector in the UK for a number of years. Foreseeing the threat of continued budget cuts, and addressing the situation many local councils face, requires internal transformations for financial stability without losing the key focus on public service. Agile transformations have been undertaken by organisations wanting to learn from the software development community and bringing agile principles into the wider organisation. This paper describes and analyses an ongoing behaviour-led transformation in a district council in the UK. It presents the results of the analysis of 19 interviews with internal stakeholders at the council, of observations of meetings among senior and middle management in a five-month period. The paper explores the successes and the challenges encountered towards the end of the transformation process and reflects on balancing acts to address the challenges, be-tween: disruption and business as usual, empowerment and goal setting, autonomy and processes and procedures, and behaviours and skills. Based on our findings, we suggest that behaviours on their own cannot guarantee a sustained agile culture, and that this is equally important for enterprise agility and for large-scale agile software development transformations.

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