Agile Is Trending: Three Ways Agile
Makes Work Better
Agile has always been a super-effective way to work, but the number of teams and organizations leveraging agile has grown significantly during the pandemic. And this makes sense, since agile is a brilliant approach for our new landscape of hybrid work: It is able to serve employees and companies with extraordinary effectiveness given its tenets.
A new study from digital.ai found the adoption of agile has increased from 37% to 86% for software development teams, and adoption has doubled for non-IT groups. Work has become more unpredictable and more volatile, necessitating greater levels of speed and flexibility in the work process and more alignment between and among teams. And companies are recognizing the power of agile to address these changes and needs.
Agile can also make work more rewarding—something which is a primary concern for the estimated 41% of people considering whether to leave their jobs and find greener pastures elsewhere and the companies considering how to attract, retain and engage a largely hybrid workforce.
Why Agile, Why Now
Agile Drives Adaptability
Work today requires greater adaptability. The future is more ambiguous, and the complexity of context, conditions and work has increased. The agile methodology prioritizes responsiveness to changing conditions and eschews processes which slow things down or get in the way of progress.
The data from the digital.ai study demonstrate agile has the right effects: Organizations which have implemented or expanded agile have experienced an enhanced ability to manage changing priorities (70% of companies) and 52% of them have also increased their effectiveness in managing distributed teams. Almost half of companies (49%) have also reported a reduction of risk because of the ability to make quicker changes and react to shifting customer needs and market realities.
Agile helps people and companies shift quickly, address emerging needs and respond effectively with little advance notice.
Agile Drives Speed and Results
Work is also becoming more intense with the increasing customer demands, expanded competition and greater levels of transparency and accountability for product quality. Companies must run faster to keep up with competition and can’t afford missteps given the amplifying effects of social media if something goes wrong.
The Agile Manifesto emphasizes customer needs and the release of working software which can be improved over time. As a result, agile methodologies help with speed and results as well. Companies which have implemented or expanded agile practices have:
- Accelerated software delivery (64% of companies)
- Increased team productivity (60%)
- Enhanced predictability of delivery (51%)
- Enhanced software quality (45%)
- Increased process discipline (45%)
The results are compelling for companies and their customers, but they are also compelling for employees. When people feel like their work is effective, they tend to be more engaged. In addition, performance is correlated with happiness. People tend to have greater senses of joy and satisfaction with their work (read: likelihood to engage and stay with an organization) when they feel good about their contribution and know their work counts.
Agile Drives Engagement
Perhaps one of the most powerful elements of the Agile Manifesto and the agile mindset is the prioritization of people. Agile values people and their experience, and puts people ahead of process. This is especially relevant today, because people’s expectations for their work have shifted. They expect more from their companies and they are demanding the conditions for wellbeing, belonging and meaning. Agile makes a difference here as well.
When companies adopt agile, they report improvement in the alignment between groups within the business (66% of organizations). When people sense a line of sight from their work to the work of others and the effects on the customers, they tend to be more engaged. And this is especially important given the distributed nature of hybrid work—people still need to feel connected and integral, no matter where they’re working.
In addition, 70% of companies report greater project visibility with the use of agile—which has positive impacts for the attention and focus on projects, but also for the people working on them. Employees want to know they are recognized and validated for their work—and project visibility is positively related to people’s visibility.
Agile also affects team morale positively, according to 60% of companies. People want a sense of belonging. The work which is most rewarding, and which will engage and inspire employees is partly driven by teams which work well together, addressing challenges, solving problems, iterating, learning and celebrating when they succeed.
Overall, agile is being adopted informally with companies embracing its general concepts, and it is being adopted more formally with a variety of the established agile methodologies (scrum is an example). Many companies are also adopting agile at scale, in which they are expanding agile to more departments and integrating it across the value chain.
The study shows companies are using key rituals which are part of the agile methodology. In particular, they are making use of daily standups (87% of companies), retrospectives (83%), sprints and iteration planning (83%) and Kanban (77%).
You may choose to use different approaches, but the best method is the one you put into practice. Don’t seek to be perfect. Try agile methodologies, gather feedback, learn and improve over time, using the iterative nature of agile to implement agile itself.
Overall, you’ll be in good company if you choose to incorporate agile practices—and given how many companies are using agile to drive results, it may be a competitive imperative that you adopt agile.
Embrace agile concepts, adopt agile methodologies and continuously improve your implementation of agile. Do this for the business benefits of adaptability, speed and results. But also for the benefits to people. Agile is fundamental for better work outcomes, but also for better work experiences for people.
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