Why Agile Works

| by Michael de la Maza Follow 4 Followers , David Benz Follow 0 Followers on Feb 21, 2016

About the Authors

Michael de la Maza is an agile consultant and angel investor. As an agile consultant, his major engagements have been with PayPal, State Street, edX, Carbonite, Unum, and Symantec. Previously, he was VP of corporate strategy at Softricity (acquired by Microsoft in 2006) and co-founder of Inquira (acquired by Oracle in 2011). He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from MIT and is a Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC), formerly known as a Certied Scrum Coach (CSC). He can be (CSC). He can be reached at

David Benz is an instructional designer, trainer, and computer engineer who has designed award-winning training for Cisco Systems, Convergys, Luxottica, Apple, Great American Insurance, and Marsh & McLennan Companies. He develops classes in negotiation, influencing without authority, solution selling, organizational change, and leadership, and can be reached at


Why do some companies excel with agile and others see virtually no improvement? The difference is culture and an understanding that agile is a framework for deep cultural change instead of a process or set of practices to increase efficiency. 

Processes and methods can become stale and rote, and can stifle innovation—even processes that were initially developed to be agile. An agile culture, however, will continuously improve and adapt without the need for periodic change initiatives. 

Why Agile Works: The Values Behind the Results focuses on why and how agile works and where agile should take organizations in terms of values. Here you’ll learn: 

  •  - Why agile fails most often
  •  - How culture determines results
  •  - The difference between values and beliefs
  •  - A framework for describing agile organizational values 
  •  - How to recognize common beliefs that support and undermine an agile organization

If agile is a framework for change, this book is about what this change looks like and how agile beliefs lead you there.

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Table of contents

  • Everything Is Agile
    • Crossing the chasm
    • Adoption vs. transformation
    • How the rest of the book is organized
  • Agile Values
    • Values and beliefs
    • Values unite, beliefs divide
    • Organizational culture determines results
    • Agile is a set of beliefs
    • The evolution of organizational culture
    • A quick digression
    • A values framework for agile transformation
  • Trust
    • Theories X and Y
    • Trust equals speed
    • Aspects of trust
    • Common organizational beliefs about trust
    • Example: How to destroy a high-performing team
  • Responsibility
    • Relationship to trust
    • Aspects of responsibility
    • Common organizational beliefs about responsibility
  • Learning
    • The world is unpredictable
    • Aspects of learning
    • Common organizational beliefs about learning
    • Example: Dedicated learning time
  • Collaboration
    • Collaboration compared to cooperation
    • The agile framework for collaboration
    • Aspects of collaboration
    • Common organizational beliefs about collaboration
    • Example: Collaboration at Pixar
  • Agile Values Revisited
    • Culture > process
    • If culture > process, why does change focus on process?
    • The agile culture and a few recommendations
    • Coda and kudos
  • Additional Resources
    • References
    • Index