How Agile Are You Really: Let’s Find Out!

In an earlier blog post, I raised the question of how agile organizations really are. This was based on my experience with a variety of companies that claim to be agile, but that, when taking a closer look, were not agile at all. Or that were using some agile practices, but failed to reap the real benefits that employing an agile way of working might bring.

The same is true when it comes to continuous integration and testing practices. Or when it comes to architecture practices, deployment practices, customer involvement, data-driven development, ecosystem engagement, etc. There often is a significant gap between how companies claim they are operating and the actual reality in the R&D teams. And in many companies, there is a pattern that by saying something often enough, people start to believe it.

The challenge of course is how one gets an objective and accurate overview of the state of R&D. Performing code analysis is beneficial for some purposes, but it doesn’t allow for these types of analysis. An alternative is to get an external consulting team or expert in who interviews some of folks in the organization, studies how work is performed and then provides an “expert opinion”. The problem with the latter is that this tends to be very expensive, uses only a thin slice of the organization as a basis for the analysis and often still contains significant bias.

What we would really want is an approach that allows us to measure objectively and accurately, gives everyone in the company a voice and is based on decades of research. Well, guess what? That is exactly what I have been working on with my team over the last years.

Based on the research around R&D practices that we published both in books, such as these, as well as in research articles, over the last years we have developed as configurable survey that allows you to assess the relevant aspects of R&D in your organization. This gives you a quantitative insight into the R&D topics that you care about. In addition, by running the survey again at a later point in time, you can track progress. Third, it allows us to compare the different sites within the company.  Finally, we offer the opportunity to compare yourself to similar companies as we have data from several companies already available. And of course, you don’t just get the numbers, but also concrete suggestions on how to improve your R&D organization.

Some examples of the results of the survey include graphs like the one below. Of course, the survey also provides more detailed insights such as insight into the actual deployment frequency as shown in the second figure below.

Figure: Assessment of five R&D practices

Figure: Assessment of deployment frequency

Concluding, many companies talk about their advanced R&D practices, such as agile, but when studying the cases in more detail, it often turns out that reality does not meet perception. We’re offering you a configurable survey where you can select some or all of the following R&D practices for evaluation:

  • Agile practices
  • Architecture practices – e.g. technical debt management
  • CI and testing practices
  • (Continuous) Deployment practices
  • Customer involvement practices
  • Data-driven development practices
  • Ecosystem engagement practices
  • Organizational empowerment practices

This allows you to get quantitative feedback insight into the state of your R&D practices as well as tangible recommendations for improvement. Sounds good? Click here for a link to the survey page (https://janbosch.com/survey.html) or send me an email for more information.

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