For those of you who are Star Trek fans you’ve likely been seeing ads for this t-shirt on your social media feeds. It is an apt metaphor for the empirical approach that we take with Disciplined Agile – we regularly run studies to explore what is actually going on out there on agile teams, we gather data, as opposed to pouting some of the wishful thinking (spreading lore) that we often hear from consultants and vendors.
We are currently running an agile mini-survey of only 6 questions, so this will take you a few minutes at most to fill out, exploring some important issues about agile adoption within your organizations. We hope that you choose to invest a few minutes of your valuable time to fill it out, and thank you in advance for doing so.
What Will We Do With the Results?
As you already know the surveys that we run are completely open – We share the source data (without identifying information), the questions as they were originally asked, and a Powerpoint deck summarizing our interesting findings after the survey has closed. In fact, we have the results from dozens of previous studies posted at the IT Surveys page for you to take a look at.
We also write blogs discussing the results. For example, for the 2016 Agile Scaling survey that we ran in November, we published several blogs:
Recently, we’ve created a new infographic summarizing the results of the study. If you click on the thumbnail below it will take you to the page where you can download a high-resolution PDF of it. This infographic is only available to members of the Disciplined Agile Consortium (DAC).
Where Can You Get the T-Shirt?
If you’re interested in the T-Shirt, it is a time limited offering on Teespring.
The quick answer is no, that’s an incredibly bad idea.
We ran a study in February 2017, the 2017 Agile Governance survey, to explore the issues around governance of agile teams. This study found that the majority of agile teams were in fact being governed in some way, that some agile teams were being governed in an agile or lightweight manner and some agile teams in a traditional manner. See the blog Are Agile Teams Being Governed? for a summary of those results.
The study also examined the effect of governance on agile teams, exploring the perceived effect of the organization’s governance strategy on team productivity, on the quality delivered, on IT investment, and on team morale. It also explored how heavy the governance strategy was perceived to be and how well it was focused on the delivery of business value. The following figure summarizes the results of these questions.
Here are our conclusions given these results:
When we work with organizations to help them to adopt agile ways of working, we often find that they are running into several common challenges when it comes to IT governance:
For agile to succeed in your organization the way that you approach IT must evolve to enable and support it, and this includes your governance strategy. Reach out to us if you would like some help in addressing this important issue.
For the major of teams the answer is yes. We ran a survey in February 2017, the 2017 Agile Governance survey, to explore the issues around governance of agile teams. As you can see in the following diagram, 78% of respondents indicated that yes, their agile teams were in fact being governed in some manner.
We also asked people about the approach to governing agile teams that their organization followed. As you can see in the following diagram, a bit more than a third of respondents indicated that the governance strategy was lightweight or agile in nature. Roughly the same indicated that their agile teams had a more traditional approach to governance applied to them, and one quarter said their governance approach was neither helping nor hindering their teams.
Governance tends to be a swear word for many agilists and they will tell you that governance is nothing than useless bureaucracy. Sadly in many organizations this seems to be the case. In the next blog in this series we will compare the effectiveness of agile and traditional strategies for governing agile teams.
We are often told that agile teams should be whole, that they should have sufficient people, funding, and skills to fulfill their mission. The idea is that this reduces the dependencies that your team has on others, enabling them to make decisions and to collaborate more effectively. But, is this actually happening in practice? Are agile teams truly whole, or do they still need to collaborate with other teams (hopefully productively) to get the job done? Being strong believers in empiricism over rhetoric we decided to look into this issue.
In November of 2016 we ran the 2016 Agility at Scale survey. It was targeted at people who were currently working on agile teams, or who had recently worked on agile teams, and we asked them straightforward questions around the size of the team, how distributed it was, what complexities they faced, an so on. The following infographic summarizes the findings from the question that explored whether agile delivery teams need to work with external teams or groups to get their work done – in other words, are agile teams truly whole or do they rely on others? As you can see, 96% of respondents indicated that in practice their team had to work with one or more other teams, leading to the conclusion that very few agile teams appear to be truly whole.
One of the fundamental principles underlying the Disciplined Agile (DA) toolkit is that disciplined agilists should be enterprise aware – they should recognize that they need to collaborate with others outside of their team, that they should work towards a common organizational vision, and that they should strive to do what is best for the organization and not just what is convenient for them. Given that agile teams are collaborating with others in practice, it is clear that this philosophy of being enterprise aware is important.
The following diagram presents the results from the survey question in greater detail. You can obtain the source data, a copy of the original questions, and a slide deck key diagrams at the 2016 Agility at Scale survey page.
Many people, particularly those new to agile, will tell you that agile teams must be small and co-located. That is certainly a smart way of organizing a team, but is isn’t required. In fact agile teams are more likely to be geographically distributed in some way than they are to be co-located. In practice, not theory.
In November of 2016 we ran the 2016 Agility at Scale survey. It was targeted at people who were currently working on agile teams, or who had recently worked on agile teams, and we asked them straightforward questions around the size of the team, how distributed it was, what complexities they faced, an so on. The following graph summarizes the responses around geographic distribution.
The survey found that less than one-third of agile teams are near-located, where all of the IT members are either co-located or at least in a shared open space. Previous studies have found that this number drops to one-in-ten teams being near located when you also include primary stakeholders.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do agile with a geographically distributed team because others are clearly doing so in practice. Yes, geographically distributed agile is different than near-located agile, which is one of the reasons why you need to take a pragmatic, context-sensitive approach to agile solution delivery. The Disciplined Agile (DA) toolkit provides the foundation from which to scale your approach to solution delivery to address a range of scaling factors, including geographic distribution. In fact, you may find our article around geographically distributed agile teams to be an interesting read.