Full Transplant

Full Transplant

Play Description

The “Full Transplant” agile transformation play recreates the entire organization as an agile organization, giving it agile roots to feed long term agility. Full transplant is a complete top, middle and bottom transformation — occurring all at once.

Because a “Full Transplant” typically requires buy-in and active leadership by executives in the organization, it is also known as a “top-down” transformation.

Use When…

Though “Full Transplant” is a commonly called play, it is rarely the best one to call. “Full Transplants” are fast, but they are also risky and painful for members of the organization.

As a result, “Full Transplant” should be used sparingly, including these situations:

  • You have a “burning house”. Sometimes, an industry is undergoing rapid change and disruption. If an organization is heavily invested in a rapidly-changing industry, if profit margins are quickly evaporating, and if its competitors are far ahead of it in exploiting the rapid change, you are likely experiencing a “burning house” or “house-on-fire” scenario. Organization’s whose house is burning are good candidates for a full transplant because the alternative to rapid change could well be bankruptcy and irrelevance.
  • Charismatic leadership in place. Success with “Full Transplant” requires leadership encourage and, in some cases, force difficult change to occur quickly. Because of this, charismatic, persuasive leadership is needed to “sell” rapid, often-painful change.
  • Significant funding readily available. Because change is occurring at all levels of the organization, full transplants require significant funding for coaches, trainers, recruiting agile team members, and (sadly) severance for individuals being transitioned out of the organization.
  • Highly educated workforce. Due to higher resiliency and greater flexibility, full transplants are more likely to be successful when you have a highly-educated workforce.

Play Authors

  • Donald Patti


Despite the fact that “Full Transplants” are often high risk and painful, there are some advantages, including:

  • Green lights to transformation leadership. For the coaches, trainers and other leadership seeking to transform the organization, receiving constant “green lights” to move forward aggressively is appealing, particularly when compared with agile transformations that move forward much more cautiously.
  • Rapid change possible. Due to the “green lights” described above, rapid change is very possible.
  • Plenty of air cover. Because executive leadership have endorsed and are supporting the change, there is often a great deal of “air cover”, or support from leadership when people complain about change.
  • Impediments more easily cleared. Typically, due to the urgent desire for change and the support provided by leadership, organizational impediments are cleared much more easily when a full transplant is underway.


There are some disadvantages to a “Full Transplant” play, including:

  • Risky & complex. Due to the rapid rate of change in many different departments across multiple levels of the organization,  full transplants are very risky and very complex. When compared to other plays, failure rates are likely to be high and the effort to recover from failure much more difficult.
  • May disrupt current operations. Because change is happening everywhere at once, full transplant efforts may disrupt current operations, triggering frustration fro and loss of customers.
  • Forces out resistant-but-talented. In order to be successful with a full transplant, you typically need rapid change to occur. Inevitably, many individuals resist change, particularly talented and creative individuals who are not yet sold on agile. As a result, full transplants often force out resistant-but-talented people when they either leave or are terminated for resisting change.

Additional Notes