All in on agile: a case study of the challenges and success factors of an enterprise agile transformation in retail banking

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management
In today’s fast-paced innovation economy, companies are operating under an increasingly turbulent and volatile environment. Faced with the pressure from fierce global competition, rapid technological advancement, and evolving customer expectations, businesses have identified the need for transforming the way they generate value for their customers. Amongst the leading entrepreneurial practices helping firms to excel under the new competitive reality is enterprise agile which refers to adopting principles and methods that increase organizational speed and adaptability at scale to enable the delivery of highly customizable, high quality products or services. While these agile methods are being increasingly adopted in large organizations beyond just development functions, the understanding of how to scale agile in varying operating environments remains insufficient. This research provides empirical evidence of the best practices for scaling agile in a large organization by examining the major challenges and success factors encountered during a large-scale agile transformation. This study narrows its focus on the adoption of the enterprise agile model in the complex and highly competitive financial services sector by employing semi-structured interviews as the primary form of qualitative inquiry. Undergoing an agile transformation of unmatched scale in the Nordics, OP Financial Group was selected as the case company, where the phenomenon was studied among two teams operating within the same, development-oriented business unit. Considering this research context, the study contributes specifically to the understanding of adopting agile at large scale in the financial services industry in Finland. The findings of the study largely align with prior literature examining agile transformations and organizational agility, with the exception of a few key context-specific factors. A unified, yet customizable agile approach, along with systematic management support were identified as key contributors for a successful start for the transformation. On the other hand, the organization continued to deal with challenges mostly derived from the large organizational scale and complexity of the operating environment. Apart from the inherent rigidity resulting from having to comply with a complex set of regulations as well as both non-financial and financial risk policy, the company suffered from abundant development-related dependencies and a rigid technical environment in their pursue for agility.

Organizational agility, enterprise agile, agile transformation, agile development, change management, corporate entrepreneurship
Thesis advisor
Kroeger, Arne
organizational agility, enterprise agile, agile transformation, agile development
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