Agile Adoption Metrics that matter for Digital Transformations

…said the cat to the mouse

When the mouse laughs at a cat, there is a hole nearby.
-Ancient Proverb

Aha, the old and never ending cat-and-mouse social behavior game. This mindset persists in business due to defective reward systems or conflicting incentives hidden inside the policy and culture of large enterprise and institutions. This old game’s mindset does not get us to meaningful metrics for agile adoptions for digital. Let’s look at why this is true, and what can get us to accurate data for KPI’s, measurements of success, and process or product improvements.

At scale, the cat is much bigger and more potent than its nimble housemate. This is why the laughing mouse looking for cheese or victory cautiously remains close to its old escape route. Unless leaders advocate for open changes in cultural behavior and eliminate the advantage to keeping things strategically hidden, we will see posturing in perpetuity.

The cat and laughing mouse proverb provide an analogy for us to look at the inexplicable link between psychological safety in the workplace and getting to meaningful Agile Adoption Metrics to progress high level strategic intent that’s important for all.

The enemy is a theoretical and unconscious mindset; this is an approach that has no meaningful endpoint and can only use old solutions.

The Old Game

In the past a static mindset during change mandated the mouse be more clever than the powerful cat; therefore, the hole represents a backup plan should efforts to make a change in tactics not work out as expected for the mouse.

The cat represents policy, law, embedded antiquated beliefs – still carried out by executives and leaders who need multi-view reports filled with essential information, data or recommendations around change to validate organizational strategy.

Let’s agree this old game is played in an environment that is not psychologically safe enough for multi-level problem solving. This means there are limited ways of being efficient in the workplace.

People find it difficult to deliver their work without causing change that has not been instituted or supported by policy, law, or leadership.

The impact of change on the fly during digital transformations – relative to getting things done to collect meaningful agile metrics, is often invisible yet risk laden.

When the execution of new tactical behavior or processes around software development reveal missing things “needed” to expedite rapid delivery, the messenger can be met with public humiliation. This validates that the old game underlies the new changes being made, accompanied by an unsafe mindset.

The New Mindset

Today’s successful mindset for agile adoption:

  • Provides opportunity for transparent discussions about difficult things with all levels engaged and no punitive damages,
  • Encourages and celebrates contributors who speak up in the face of big challenges to get to accurate data metrics
  • Creates space for honest feedback loops. 

However, to get to this level of cultural intelligence it requires building psychological safety into your large-scale environment first!


When people feel cornered they often resort to old habits. As an enterprise coach I’ve seen this first hand. This is especially true during the adoption of agile needed for digital, if there is no concern for the cultural changes that always follow new enterprise activity.   

Agile execution teams & leading coalitions exert the majority of the effort to expedite change that often could have been put in motion already. Therefore, they find themselves accountable. They’re charged with pointing out what is needed vs. what exists – potentially not even part of their development job. What they end up having to do is put in place fundamental changes to deliver.

In this scenario, only they know what’s happening and why. If failing fast is not celebrated this is risky for them and data accuracy can be illusive.

When teams try to minimize the impact of change due to fear, they end up sacrificing time and freedom needed to determine what level of speed and which measurements can teach the most during this change process. As a result, we find ourselves watching intelligent people living outside the reality of their actual environment. Crazy making!

When individuals are busy determining an escape velocity of sorts vs. finding relative data points seasoned coaches know that interpersonal risk in the environment is high. We can almost predict that agility will then be low or staged with some form of smoke & mirrors. I’m not an agile purest, so that is not what i am referring to here.

Leaving a transformation up to chance – by not driving or supporting behavioral change that develops into psychological safety to enable meaningful metrics and support innovation and growth, is “physics envy.”  

Running away or back to old processes and attitudes does not decrease the impact of an object or transformation already in motion, as our intuition compels us to believe. Nor does knowing the current lay of the land and old acceptable social behaviors – or what leaders wanted to hear in the past, indicate predictability for the reported outcome of injecting new change into your environment.

The persistence of old cultural habits during transformation works like naïve intuition: it needs a data correction from diverse experiences. Being precise enough to guide a dynamic, enterprise-wide transition means – we need information from our new activities to plan properly.


Why is this true?  

In software, quantum physics, and social behavior any new lifecycle activities trigger a transition – often for multiple things. This shift in energy morphs objects from one state into another organically. Even though we’ve denied this verified science for some time we know that it happens.

Activity Lifecycle in Android

When planned for, these state changes can be integrated properly to capture customer satisfaction. However, they can also create an uncontrollable domino effect if left to chance.

Baking psychological safety into business strategy to enable free discussion and creative problem solving – to get to accurate data for decision-making, until now has not been a priority.


Social behavioral changes in the work environment for: handling code processing, different types of automation configuration or appropriate personal responses needed for agility activities, can only be transparently expressed when people feel psychologically safe enough to do so.

How does everyone know the reversion holes to avoid when only the mouse knows where they are if he or she hasn’t felt comfortable enough to openly talk about them openly? How can you determine if reporting data holds true for the success of a holistic environment or is just depicting an upward performance trend for an individual team under scrutiny?

Metrics may be unknowingly or purposefully skewed to look like what the cat has requested or expected in the past

so the mouse can psychologically survive.

Because leaders cannot know with certainty what state changes will occur when new activities are put into play, they don’t initially know which metrics will reveal important data. So all data must be accurately expressed. Leaders who mindfully communicate change in policy or procedure create environmental safety, and their people can and will give them real intel that matters!

Because the cat will always rely on empirical data to create strategic moves, implementing psychological safety makes sense.

I’ve seen the cat-and-mouse game at the beginning of an Agile adoption and mid-way. When an enterprise pivots direction to get to a digital win – after a good amount of time and effort has gone into trying to scale but failure kept occurring, the posturing is quite disconcerting to people that have been busy trying to execute change. And, so the game continues…

The most damaging environment is the one where leaders do not see the need to change norms around social behavior. These leaders mandate changes be made to many logistical activities, and fully expect sustainable and successful business and technological results without advocating meaningful cultural change. Measurements in this type of atmosphere cannot be relied upon to track your journey, validate your hypothesis, scale easily, or retain top talent. Nor will they provide truly open creative innovation in the age of digital disruption.

When a company is mandated to adopt agile metrics, but leaders do not advocate social behavioral change to support transition, a digital transformation is like using a Walkman for music when you have a smartphone and earbuds in your pocket.


Old tactics alone do not work best in digital because there are things in play that are hard to see and difficult to measure with traditional, linear, angular metrics we are used to; however, creative synthesis can get us to smooth success.

Let’s explore what would happen if the cat-and-mouse lived in a psychologically safe environment.

First off there would not be any hidden reversion holes – instead they would: 

  1. Know that every new move they try is an experiment or model validation that will incrementally get them to success with guided and sustained performance over the long term.   
  1. Ensure that accurate data and meaningful metrics are delivered to create sustainability. A solid strategy based on good intel can retain market longevity. This only works when housemates are synchronously and mindfully connected, and no one is chasing the catnip.   
  1. Understand that failure leads you closer to truth. Knowledge of invisible constraints that need to be discovered and considered is the way to find the issues that right people in the right position can solve. This organically delivers higher quality value & new ROI – or being competitive in a disruptive marketplace.

Below are three main metrics with 7 correlating social and technology changes that need some psychological safety in place to be meaningful:

There aren’t many ways to survive new environments unless social behavior changes first. At mobileLACE we embed social practices into our 12 capabilities.

Below Are Meaningful Adoption Metrics that mobileLACE addresses in our full service plan:

  • Collaboration
  • Throughput and Finance
  • Cultural Intelligence  
  • Embracing the Constraints 
  • Conscious Decision Making 


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Robin Gregory

CEO mobileLACE

Enterprise Analyst, Digital Transformation Specialist, Writer. 25 years of business and technology experience.

mobileLACE is a team of intelligent advocates with a passion for sharing knowledge about digital transformation. Our intention is to assist leaders in the 21st century marketplace blending cultural intelligence with technological agility.