Case Study Summary: Whole Foods Market

Home Grown Agile

An Agile journey with one of America’s most trusted brands.

Tracy Briscoe oversees Whole Foods Market’s (WFM) Financial Services teams at the World Headquarters in Austin, Texas. In 2010 her group in charge of financial systems development had evolved into “a culture of ‘no’” — continually declining stakeholder and business partner work requests due to lack of capacity.

Team leads and members embarked on a DIY Agile journey, seeking outside support from Agile For All when capacity planning became a cause of conflict in their teams, as well as a concern for upper management.

“One thing that Agile for All does really well is to come in and help us bring to the surface what we are trying to solve, then challenge our ideas on how we are thinking about solving it. They also bring specific techniques around facilitation and communication that resonate well here with our group.”

Sr. Director of Enterprise Information and Business Systems

Agile for All trainers Bob Hartman and Richard Lawrence took the lead on early WFM engagements. Starting with the first class in 2013, Agile for Teams, they facilitated a series of changes to shift the culture:

  • Gathering stakeholders for input on priorities
  • Team members choosing work based on what they had expertise in and wanted to work on
  • Across the board transparency
  • Requiring work request scoring focused on the business values

That last shift proved to be a game changer Tracy called: “a whole pendulum swing.” Based on the 80/20 principle that most of the value in every project (the 80%) comes from just a small slice of it (the 20%), Richard’s “Feature Mining” techniques helped the WFM development group “slice” large cumbersome projects into incremental improvements, delivering maximum impact with minimum time and effort.

Data from FY 2014 showed that teams gained the ability to clearly understand what’s at the top of the backlog, with the metrics to predictably gauge capacity and little variance between budget and actuals.

Less is measurably more.

In 2014 the leadership team spent two hours quarterly planning budgets across five investment areas. This shift toward agility significantly increased the development teams’ capacity and accuracy.

Agile for All continues on the journey with Tracy’s teams, focusing on delivering more agility in Whole Food Market’s business intelligence and data warehouse space.


Download the 6-page case study with more Agile learnings from Whole Foods Market.