Have you run into organizations that are so entrenched with their practices that they cannot successfully adopt agile practices thus are doomed to repeat their crisis driven deliveries?
Good and uncomfortable question. First of all, yes I have, there are many failed adoptions out there and I can't say I have *the* answer, but I've been forming a the beginnings of one over the past year or two.
Let me come at this from the side instead of directly:
1) I had an aha! moment (well maybe it took a few days) at Agile 2008 this year. And that is, that we really can't change anyone other than ourselves. A coach's job is to 'reveal the system to itself' and then let the system itself decide what it wants to do. Some systems/teams/organizations are in their slow decline towards death/change/rebirth and that maybe right for that team. Those teams, no matter what you show them will continue on their way.
But that doesn't mean that all teams are hopeless and you should just give up. The best way to do things is to show them what's wrong. And the best way to do that, is to guide them so that they see the problem and call it out themselves - it doesn't help for us to call out the problem. Once the problem is seen and called out, then we can have a constructive discussion about practices.
2) There is a foundation of human dynamics that all transformations - Agile or otherwise -are built upon. And if those foundations aren't there, no team will change to their benefit. In touchy-feely impediments to Agile adoption we consider/address just your question about what things can stand in the way of good adoption and how can we see it.
Hope this helps in some small way - Amr
Amr Elssamadisy<br /><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Agile-Adoption-Patterns-Roadmap-Organizational/dp/0321514521/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1220909336&sr=8-1" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Agile Adoption Patterns</a>