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Thoughts on the State of Agile 2018 Survey from CollabNet VersionOne

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The End of Agile? No, the End of Undisciplined Agile.

The results of the 2018 State of Agile survey ( have just been released.  This survey, while not particularly scientific in its approach, is a widely read and frequently quoted survey of what people are actually doing on a variety of agile topics.  It is good to see that Disciplined Agile continues to grow in popularity, up from 5% marketshare to 7%, behind only  SAFe which commands a 30% market share and is the clear leader (Scrum of Scrums is ahead of DAD, but it is just a practice, not a method).  While we are very pleased that people are finally starting to understand what DA is and how it can help them, I am not particularly fond of the way the question is framed in the survey and would like to share my thoughts for how it could be improved, and my interpretation of the findings.

  1. Disciplined Agile (DAD) is listed as an option in the “Which scaling method/approach do you use?”.  People who understand DA know that it is actually not specifically a scaling framework.  It is rather a toolkit of strategies, a hybrid of practices from many methods and frameworks which can help you optimize your way of working (WoW) regardless of which approach you use.  It can be used on one small Scrum team, or dozens of SAFe teams.  Whatever approach you use, DA can help you to become even more awesome! #beawesome
  2. As I said above, Scrum of Scrums should not be one of the choices as it is simply a coordination practice for Scrum at scale, not a method.
  3. “Don’t know” is interesting as an option.  It puzzles me that people that are answering this survey aren’t aware of their organization’s approach.  My suspicion is that many of the people picking this selection actually mean “Not applicable” as many organizations do not scale agile.  I think that this should available as a selection.
  4. The question really should be a multiple choice, rather than single.  Most organizations use a variety of approaches.  It would be more useful to ask “What percentage of your IT spend uses each of the following approaches?”
  5. Spotify is actually not a framework.  It is how a Swedish music company circa 2014 had adapted agile at that point in time, to optimize their WoW for their unique context.  If you copy their approach you are copying an old approach of a company in a situation unlike yourselves, and for which they have evolved away from significantly.
  6. I find “Internally created methods” intriguing as a choice.  We think that this is what all companies should aspire towards.  Start with either where you are currently, or one of the other methods (recipes), and then use the DA Toolkit to either evolve away from, or to improve your approach for your unique organization and team context.
  7. Spotify actually embodies this approach.  They have continually evolved, improving, and optimizing their way of working.  Menlo Innovations also has done the same thing, starting with Extreme Programming (XP) as their core method, and then optimized for what works for them.  Rather than copying other companies approaches we should “learn how to learn” about what works best for us. We describe this approach of leveraging proven fit-for-context practices in our Choose your Wow! book as “Continuous Guided Improvement”.  Starting with some basic scaffolding of an existing method (what we refer to as “lifecycles” in DAD) provides a jumpstart on your WoW optimization.

We would recommend that you do not aspire to “be Spotify”, but rather “be like Spotify”.  Start with a basic method/lifecycle (recipe), then spice it up with the help of proven strategies from the DA Toolkit (ingredients).

Become your own Spotify or Menlo, not somebody else’s.


Posted by Mark Lines on: May 20, 2019 08:14 AM | Permalink

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