Agile Adoption and Crossing the Chasm

Let’s look at the the connections between organizational change, agile adoption and Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore

Today, I want to talk to you about a common model that I draw up in my ScrumMaster classes that I think you might find helpful. This model frames and gives context to challenges that we find in our workplaces. “Crossing the Chasm” from Geoffrey Moore is a very simple diagram based on the technology adoption curve, that divides up technology users and organizations into several categories.

Crossing the Chasm Categories


Innovators are a very small group. They’re going to typically take in new technology, simply because it’s new.

Early Adopters

Early Adopters don’t mind being on the bleeding edge because there’s value there, of some sort. They are highly motivated to leverage the advantage they see in the new technology.

Early Majority

Then, you have the Early Majority; I call them your Version 3 folks. Everyone’s jumping in the pool, I think it’s safe to go in, let’s go.

Agile adoption and crossing the chasmLate Majority

Then, we have your Late Majority. They don’t care if everyone’s jumping in the pool, or what the temperature is like, they ain’t going. They don’t like change, and they’re a bit risk averse.


Finally, at the very end, you have the Laggards, who aren’t going to go until they’re pushed off of the technology and they have to change.

What is Important about Agile Adoption and Crossing the Chasm?

Scrum has been around for a while. Many folks who come into the class say, “Yeah, we’re going to try that new Scrum thing.” Well… It’s been being used since the 90’s, so it’s not necessarily new. The folks that we see adopting it now are very large organizations and in segments that might surprise you, such as healthcare or defense. This has been going on for several years now.

Looking at those industries, what’s their typical feeling and response to change? I would put them in the late majority stage, and it’s been that way for at least a number of years. And why does that matter for folks looking at Scrum? We’re going to implement a lot of organizational change, and how do these folks, in general, feel about change? Well, they don’t like change. They don’t want to have to go. But, it’s a little bit like a burning platform, perhaps. They don’t want to dive way down to the water, but the platform’s on fire, so they don’t have a choice. We generally need to have several conversations about that.

In addition, I’d also ask, do they tend to like a plan or a structure more than the other groups? Innovators are going to get something because it’s new. They don’t need justification why or a roadmap of what it’s going to be like. They’re going to try it out. The Late Majority wants to know: What’s going to happen? What’s the impact? Can you give me a plan? Sometimes when we’re going through Agile adoptions, we can say, “Well, we’ll figure it out. Or, don’t worry, we’ll get there when we get there.” The Late Majority, might want a little bit more information and structure than that. 🙂

As you introduce change to your organization, think about the relationship between agile adoption and Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. He gives a very insightful look at how we groups adapt to change. Think about where the folks that you’re dealing with lie on the curve.

As always, if your company needs help with organizational change, agile adoption, or Scrum methodology, click on the training link and contact us to set up a consultation.

For information on how large organizations have implemented agile practices see:

Enterprise Agile Transformation – SDOC 2015 Keynote – Ed Kraay and Stas Zvinyatskovsky of Yahoo! at Scrum Day Orange County

How to Get Management Support for Agile with Scrum Methodology

How to Get Started with Scrum at my Company

3 Critical Decisions for

Agile Transformation Success

Potentially save your company and career by discovering…