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The key to agile at scale is education and culture

Lilliana Golob
Lilliana Golob
18 November 22 Agile
Graphic showing people collaborating in an agile environment

Your views on agile revealed

In our new Agile Pulse survey, we asked over 1,000 professionals in the UK and US for their views on agile, and agile at scale. We looked into who is practising it, the benefits and roadblocks, how the role of agile has changed, and key issues.

The results provide useful insights to consider when reviewing your agile transformation and developing your agile at scale strategies.

Practising agile at scale

While agile’s popularity has grown significantly over the past few years, close to 70% of respondents indicated their organisations haven’t implemented agile across multiple teams (agile at scale) – representing a huge challenge and opportunity. 

The main reasons why agile at scale hasn’t been adopted across their organisation include:

  • We’re unclear about the benefits and ROI (31.13%)
  • Our current working method is fine (29.69%)
  • We have other priorities (17.15%)
  • It would be too costly or complex (12.64%)
  • We don’t have buy-in from senior leadership (9.39%)

When asked how much of their organisation is currently agile, 44% of survey respondents said ‘under 10%’, with the majority (47%) falling between 10 to 50%.

They also pointed out that the issues they care most about are better agile tools, company-wide adoption, as well as the ability to scale agile and effectively combining agile with DevOps.

Benefits of agile

The business benefits respondents said they hope to achieve fit under the umbrella of team and operational efficiency, with 37% saying they want better coordination across teams.

31% of survey respondents want increased visibility across teams, and 29% want to align strategy with delivery better. And the vast majority believe agile is key to creating a solid digital transformation strategy, with 77% identifying it as ‘somewhat’ to ‘extremely’ important.

The benefits respondents hope to achieve from adopting agile or agile at scale:

  • Better coordination across teams (37.26%)
  • Increased visibility across teams (31.42%)
  • Align strategy with delivery (29.02%)
  • Business growth (27.87%)
  • Customer focus (25.48%)
  • Improved time to market (19.83%)
  • Creating consistency of approach (14.46%)

Challenges to implementing agile at scale

When asked about challenges or boundaries to implementing agile at scale, 34% of our survey respondents cited ‘insufficient knowledge of methods and frameworks’ as a top problem, while just over 26% said ‘cultural shift’

Insufficient knowledge can be addressed with more education and awareness, but a cultural shift is tougher.  This is because many companies focus on processes and technology more than people, culture and mindset. 

This is especially true outside of traditional IT departments where HR, finance, and marketing were all cited as hindrances to implementing agile at scale (very likely due to a need for more understanding about the benefits of agile). 

"Over 21 years ago, we created the Agile Manifesto and helped redefine software development in a more pragmatic way, giving millions of people the ability to throw off the shackles of process for process’ sake while still delighting their customers. We need to continue to help teams tackle their organisational and technical challenges by applying agile concepts at every level of their business. It is not someone else’s responsibility to transform, agile transformation starts with all of us."
Jon Kern, Agile Consultant, Adaptavist and co-author of the Agile Manifesto

The role of agile in organisations

From our survey results, it's reassuring to know that agile is more important to their company than ever before for 22.13% of respondents. And over the last two years, 13.41% feel agile has become embedded in their company culture. 

However, if companies want to adopt agile practices or scale agile, more work needs to be done, particularly around culture, as evidenced by our survey. Breaking away from outdated, hierarchical ways of working requires a mindset shift across the whole organisation. But when you achieve this, your organisation will be able to better react and respond to change positively and put the customer at the heart of everything you do.

Need help with your agile transformation or scaling agile?

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