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Agile Readiness: 2017 Open Research

How to Measure Anything
This open research into agile readiness within organizations was performed during May 2017 under the title May 2017 Agile Mini-survey. There was 192 respondents. The survey was advertised on Twitter (@scottwambler), on the LinkedIn Disciplined Agile Discussion forum, the Agile and Lean LinkedIn forum, and on the Ambysoft IT Surveys page.

The Survey Results

There are several interesting thoughts based on the results of this survey:

  1. Organizations may not be as ready for agile as we hope. The survey asked two key questions. For area X (software development, procurement, …) how agile do people in that area currently work (very traditional to very agile) and how willing are they to improve the way that they work (very reticent to very willing). For the sake of this study, we define agile “readiness” to be a combination of how agile are they already and how willing are they to improve.
  2. IT areas are at varying levels of readiness. As you can see in Figure 1, the areas that we looked at are at differing levels of agility and at willingness to improve. Not surprisingly the software development area was seen as most agile, which makes sense given that agility originated there. Second was release management, I suspect due to the influence of DevOps strategies being adopted within organizations. The areas perceived as being less agile – operations, data management, IT governance, and Security – have received less attention within the agile community so I’m not surprised at the results.
  3. Business areas are at varying levels of readiness. As you can see in Figure 2, business areas have similar issues as do IT areas.
  4. Willingness to improve doesn’t necessarily imply a willingness to become more agile. Agile strategies aren’t the only strategies available to you to adopt as part of your improvement efforts. Lean strategies are obviously valuable in many situations, and yes, even traditional strategies provide value in certain contexts.
  5. There seems to be a correlation between agility and willingness to improve. Given point #4, it is still interesting to observe that the more willing an area is to improve that the more agile they seem to be. What isn’t clear is causality. Does a willingness to improve lead you to become more agile? Does agility promote a culture of improvement? I suspect that both are occuring in practice.

Figure 1. The agile readiness of areas within IT.


Figure 2. The agile readiness of areas within the business.



The Survey Questions

Raw Data

Summary Presentation


What You May Do With This Information

You may use this data as you see fit, but may not sell it in whole or in part. You may publish summaries of the findings, but if you do so you must reference the survey accordingly (include the name and the URL to this page). Feel free to contact me with questions. Better yet, if you publish, please let me know so I can link to your work.


Discussion of the Results

  1. This survey suffers from the fundamental challenges faced by all surveys.


Why Share This Much Information?

I’m sharing the results, and in particular the source data, of my surveys for several reasons:

  1. Other people can do a much better job of analysis than I can. If they publish online, I am more than happy to include links to their articles/papers.
  2. Once I’ve published my column summarizing the data in DDJ, I really don’t have any reason not to share the information.
  3. I think that it’s a good thing to do and I invite others to do the same.