Project Management

A Better Slice of Change

David Dame

In many transformation initiatives, there is a disconnect between top and bottom — that is, the executives mandating the change and the teams adapting it. Vertical slicing is a cross-functional, cross-level approach that removes communication barriers and leverages interconnected change agents throughout the organization to test and validate decisions.

How do you slice your organizational change? When implementing an agile transformation, do you start from the top or bottom of the organization? My experience has shown it is best to take a complete vertical slice of the top, middle and bottom.

Vertical Slicing is a holistic process where an organization is split into small cross-level and cross-functional change teams. Each change team consists of members from each level of the organization (i.e., Scrum teams, middle management and executives). The organization will be moving together as all three levels will be involved in the implementation of change. Selecting a few of these teams as the change champions (pilot teams to test the change on) will provide you with a small sample of the organization to experiment with and test the interconnections between the different levels of the change. This is a cross-level approach.

There’s an important distinction to make between a cross-functional approach and the cross-level approach. The cross-…

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"There is more to life than increasing its speed."

- Mahatma Gandhi