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State of Agile

How are companies increasing agility

In many companies the topic “agility” has reached the corporate agendas and initiatives have been started to increase corporate agility. Also, the topic of agility is stressed by many publications from different sources that often try to convince the reader to use certain tools or instruments to improve agility in their organization. Many positive effects are promised by implementing agile instruments and many experts offer their support in agile tools for almost every potential application in the company. The tools that are promoted range from trainings of agile teams to implementation of work concepts like scrumban up to implementing agile organizational concepts like holacracies and the elimination of hierarchies.

 

Unfortunately, there is hardly any evidence existing today that tells us to what extent agility measures have truly generated benefits, what benefits were generated and in which contexts the measures were successful. This was our motivation to begin a study together with the department for corporate development and organization of the University of Cologne. The study is set up in two phases. The first phase pursues the goal to achieve a general overview of agility instruments applied in companies today and their success. In a second phase, the study shall identify why companies use agile instruments and which framework conditions are needed to successfully increase agility. In the first phase of the study, interviews with 25 experts from companies of different industries and sizes, as well as functional backgrounds have led to the following key results:

 

1. Companies have a very broad and heterogeneous understanding of “agility”. Given definitions often evolve around external drivers (e.g. changing customer requirements) or organizational challenges (e.g. prerequisites, structures)

2. Accordingly, the perception on how agility can be achieved differs significantly between companies. Eight types of instruments were identified during the study, the majority of which originate from the IT environment

3. Market dynamics and changing customer requirements drive companies to apply agile methods. This is reflected in their key goals: increasing speed, improving innovativeness and generating more customer-centric outputs

4. Almost all companies perceive their experiments with agile instruments as being successful. However, systematic measurement of success is considered challenging and not frequently done

5. The foundation and key lever of agility is the way in which companies meet challenges and change. Necessary requirements for successful implementation of agile methods is a strong and defined purpose, the right mindset and culture as well as a set of agile instruments that is compatible with the tasks to be achieved

 

 

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State of Agile – How are companies increasing agility

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