Navigating an Agile Transformation

Posted By - Geoff Watts


What are the Navigator Sessions and how can they help you in your agile transformation?

An agile transformation is a complex endeavour. After over 20 years across multiple domains and industries if there is one thing I have learned it is that every company’s journey is different. While the principles behind a transition from waterfall to agile are the same, you will all face different challenges at different times.

No training or framework can give you a playbook. No trainer can tell you everything you need to know in advance and, even if they could, by the time you come to the third or fourth step, you will have forgotten it while focussing on the other more important ones.

This is why our Pathway programs have unscripted sessions built in along the way where we don’t push content at you but rather meet you where you are and coach you on the specific challenges you have been tackling or are about to tackle in your unique agile transformation.

“So many hours of training are wasted by leaving a classroom and not even picking up the book. The monthly Navigator sessions helped us apply the learning to our every day.” – Tracey Stephens, Head of Product

Isn’t that a lot of unscripted time?

A few people we have spoken to are worried about the 15 hours time they are investing in these sessions with an undefined agenda and no guaranteed output.

I get it.

Uncertainty is scary.


We are naturally drawn to tie things down even if we know this guarantees ineffectiveness than leave ourselves open to the unknown even if it is likely going to be more useful. It’s normal.

But ultimately this is agile. We have two-thirds of the Pathway built around established good practice that we almost guarantee will be relevant to everyone. But one-third is left open to the unique nature of you, your team, your organisation at that time.

How does this help your agile transformation?

There are a few benefits to leaving this proportion of the Pathway undefined:

It is emergent learning. As mentioned already, our Guides are experienced practitioners and coaches as well as trainers who can react to the unpredictable and provide real value in the moment.

It helps establish habit. A huge part of the philosophy of our Pathway approach is to help our learners get into a habit of continual learning, application and reflection. By having a Navigator session every 1-4 weeks helps establish a ritual and after a while this becomes an unconscious habit of continual improvement.

It is pull-based. Agile approaches are more “pull-based” than “push-based”. We tend to pull what we need when we need it (features, materials, stories, learning) rather than predict what we will need in advance.

It spreads out the learning. As well as allowing for reflection on previous learning it avoids learning overload by spreading it out over time.

But what can you expect in a Navigator Session?

Some topics are quite easy to predict in a way because some topics stand out as more important than others in the Explorer Workshop. It almost becomes inevitable then that we use a Navigator Session to explore that in more depth or detail.

Other topics emerge that sometimes surprise me. We’ve run Navigator Sessions on the following (these are not exhaustive):

  • Team conflict
  • Stakeholder influencing (specific individuals and groups)
  • Estimating and planning techniques
  • Recruiting a new team member
  • Customer surveys
  • Specific coaching models
  • Value stream mapping
  • Presentation skills
  • Impostor syndrome


Can we define topics up front?

In short, yes. We have cohorts who effectively create a Navigator Backlog that they keep up to date and prioritise so the Guide can come prepared with exercises, activities and tools to elaborate on certain topics.

We sometimes identify a couple of extra topics that the delegates are already aware of that are outside of the learning objectives of the Explorer and Adventurer workshops. There’s no reason why we can’t build those in to the Navigator Sessions in advance before signing off on the Pathway.

But what about MY agile transformation?

If you’ve got any specific questions about how a Product Mastery Pathway or Scrum Mastery Pathway can help you and, in particular how you can leverage the unique Navigator Sessions to help you and your agile transformation then get in touch. We’d love to talk to you!

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