Cutting & Re-planting

Cutting & Re-planting

Play Description

In the world of gardening, a “cutting” is a branch that has been cut off of a plant so that it can be replanted to grow an entirely new plant.

In agile transformation terms, “Cutting & Re-planting” is very similar. An existing branch of an organization, such as a team, department or division, is separated from the main organization. Then, the new branch is trained and coached in agile so that agile can take root. Once the re-planted organization demonstrates a high level of agility, functions and staff from the existing organization are gradually transferred to the “re-planted” group, until all functions of the organization are now agile.

It’s important to note that “Cutting & Re-planting” does not advocate terminating individuals — unless these individuals have made their own decision to leave. Instead, they are re-planted into the new organization, where agile is unencumbered by the old organization’s structure and rules.

Use When…

The “Cutting & Re-planting” play has a number of strengths in an organization where skeptics of agile exist at all levels, such as:

  • Leadership Demands Proof. In some cases, it is not enough to cite other organizations that have been successful with agile to persuade leadership to pursue an agile transformation. Leadership some times demands proof that agile will succeed in their organization before they’ll adopt agile across the enterprise.
  • Existing Leadership oppose change. “Cutting & Re-planting” also works well when existing department or division leadership oppose change. Rather than try to persuade these skeptics permit agile in their departments, it is easier to select a department with a leader who favors agile so their department can be cut and re-planted to form the new organization.


Play Authors

  • Donald Patti


Cutting and Re-planting works well for multiple reasons:

  • It limits outside influence. As long as the re-planted organization is truly separate — meaning it does not have to follow the rules and conform to the structure of the existing organization — outside influence to conform to existing rules will be successfully limited.
  • Pro-agile rules and policies possible. Because it is a separate entity, the re-planted department can create norms, rules and policies that make it possible for agile to flourish. In fact, the re-planted department needs to be able to establish a pro-agile environment in order to be successful.
  • Rest of organization can operate as-is. Because the re-planted department operates separately, the rest of the organization can operate as-is in the short run, preventing the need for massive change to occur all at once.
  • Focused effort. Because only one part of the organization is asked to change, the agile transformation effort can be focused on the re-planted department. Not only is this likely to increase the probability of success because there are fewer challenges to address at any given time, it is also likely to cost less than attempting a massive full-scale transformation all at once.


There are some notable disadvantages to calling the “Cutting & Re-planting” play, including:

  • Slow Transformation. A cutting and re-planting approach takes much longer than a full transplant because the re-planted department must transform to agile first, and only then can the rest of the organization be incrementally transformed.
  • Struggles to move beyond department. Though the re-planted department or division becomes more agile, it may still be difficult to continue the transformation beyond the department. Existing leadership may still resist change, even after agile has proven successful. Or, the re-planted department may have triggered enough positive impact that the case for an enterprise transformation is no longer compelling.
  • Often results in pockets of agility

Additional Notes

Stated simply, slice off a branch of people, change it & re-plant it, building an agile organization around the "re-planted" team.