2022 State of Agile Report - 5 Takeaways
Key Findings of the 16th Annual State of Agile Report
The 2022 State of Agile Report quantifies what many business leaders have been feeling for some time - agility is now a requirement for success.
But how and why organizations achieve business agility is changing - dramatically.
Scrum is now - by far - the most dominant framework in Agile. 87% of respondents use Scrum at the team level - up from 54% just two years ago.
Additionally, Scrum@Scale is now the fastest-growing scaling framework in the world. The data-packed State of Agile Report shows 28% of respondents now use this flexible and effective scaling framework - more than double last year’s rate.
“Scrum@Scale takes a holistic approach to drive tangible business outcomes,” explains Scrum Inc. CEO JJ Sutherland, “Agility in and of itself is not a business goal. Agility is how you reach them.”
So what are the trends and roadblocks identified in the longest continually running survey of Agile techniques and practices? What are the intriguing results?
Let’s dig into what the 16th annual State of Agile report has found.
Why Organizations are Going Agile
For a long time now, a desire for the same three process-focused outcomes has driven the adoption of Agile in organizations large and small. For quite some time, the top goals have remained increasing revenue, lowering cost, and reducing risk.
Things changed In 2022.
When asked how they prioritize implementing Agile practices, respondents now cite:
- Accelerate time to market (52%)
- Predictability (44%)
- Lower risk (31%)
What does this mean? As the State of Agile Report notes:
The ability to move quickly yet be predictable is a key benefit that stands out from a host of others, including the aforementioned revenue and cost drivers.
As documented in our John Deere case study, these trends match what Scrum Inc. has observed as well.
The report also quantifies the benefits for organizations that adopt Agile methodologies. These include several characteristics found in a healthy corporate culture - a must in the long-running struggle to keep and recruit top talent.
The Rise of Lightweight Scaling Frameworks
The 16th annual State of Agile Report clearly shows that views of where Agile adoption can benefit an organization have expanded.
More than half of respondents report their organization “apply Agile practices to the entire application delivery lifecycle.” 60% also report Agile practices are being implemented for both IT and Software teams and a company-wide digital transformation.
Clearly, the days of organizations relying on ‘Agile bubbles’ are gone, replaced by scaling Agile across an enterprise.
And, the scaling framework of choice is changing.
While Scaled Agile (53%) remains the dominant player in this space, the search for a viable alternative to the heavyweight framework has helped Scrum@Scale become the fastest-growing scaling framework. Scrum@Scale adoption jumped from 9% last year to 28% this year - an increase of 18%.
“The pace of change and complexity of modern business show that lightweight and adaptable frameworks are the future of scaling,” explains JJ Sutherland, CEO of Scrum Inc., “Scrum@Scale is how more and more companies are achieving that value across the enterprise.”
This includes organizations that already have a successful SAFe implementation as shown by this peer-reviewed IEEE white paper co-authored by Rocket Mortgage and Scrum Inc.
Visit our Scrum@Scale hub to learn how the lightweight framework helps achieve business agility, download a readiness checklist, and learn where to begin your implementation.
The Use of Agile ‘And’ Hybrids
It is easy to find the benefits of agility throughout the State of Agile Report. Respondents who are satisfied with the Agile practices in their organization report an increase in collaboration (69%), better alignment to business needs (54%), a better working environment (39%), and more.
Data like this should make every business leader enthusiastic about Agile practices.
Let’s keep in mind, enthusiasm does not equal readiness. Some organizations aren’t ready to flip a switch and become fully Agile enterprises.
Change on that level may simply be too disruptive to handle. Here’s what the 2022 State of Agile Report found:
We pull our respondents from the Agile community, so it’s not surprising that 80% of them are using Agile as their predominant approach. What is interesting is that half are using Agile in combination with other approaches, such as waterfall or iterative.
That 50% report using these ‘Agile and’ hybrids may be another driver in the increased popularity of lightweight scaling frameworks like Scrum@Scale.
These frameworks allow for agility to spread more organically than their heavyweight counterparts. In particular, the Scrum@Scale framework incorporates clear interfaces where Agile and traditional parts of an organization can efficiently communicate, collaborate, and align.
Highlighting the Importance of Change Management
To be clear, the phrase Change Management never appears in this report. Yet read through the section covering what is not working well and the importance of this discipline is clear. Here’s an example:
When we asked specifically about barriers to adopting Agile on the business side of the organization, the biggest concerns were not enough leadership participation (42%), not enough knowledge about Agile (40%), general organizational resistance to change (40%) and inadequate management support and/or sponsorship (39%).
Are these due to insufficient training and/or education? No. That barrier is listed next in the report (34%). Therefore, the common thread is the need for an effectively communicated change management strategy.
In short, increasing knowledge of Agile, reducing resistance to change, and even improving the perceived level of leadership participation and management support can be addressed when organizations embrace the fact that Agile is about change. An approach that requires a holistic, well-communicated approach to succeed.
Additional Roadblocks to Agile Success
As important as a holistic approach that includes effective change management is for any implementation, it is hardly the only roadblock to success. Company Culture (41%) replaced Inconsistencies in Processes and Practices to top this year’s list. Inconsistencies dropped to 3rd (34%) behind Lack of Management Support.
As noted above, the right culture is critical in the ongoing struggle to attract and retain talent. But it is much more than that. There is no better indicator of an organization's DNA than its culture. As the legendary management guru Peter Drucker once noted, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Organizations that don’t change may soon be serving their competitors the most important meal of the day.
Or, as the 2022 State of Agile Report notes:
The goal continues to be an organization that responds quickly and appropriately to its dynamic environment. The tumult of the last few years – from the pandemic, to supply chains, from economic recessions to government changes and the environment – all suggest that an agile business is one better suited to thrive in volatile times.
One-third of respondents in the 2022 State of Agile Report came from companies with more than 20,000 employees. Three in ten came from organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees. You can read more about the survey and the self-reported demographics in Section 08 of the report.