On Real Agility and Competitive Advantage

The Scrum Alliance recently released their yearly report (download here) which gives a broad-sweeping overview of how organizations of all sizes are applying an Agile-based approach to building software to not only remain relevant but to innovate and create true, long-lasting competitive advantage.

And what they’ve found is that the agile methodology is not only being applied outside of the immediate world of information technology and software development but now also around business practices as a whole. The philosophy Agile Frameworks and Scrum clearly allow for these creative applications!

And this makes sense because having the entire business stay competitive is one of the most important priorities for the C-suite and a recent 2017 Forbes survey shows that 70% are concerned that their company won’t be relevant or competitive in two years.

Unfortunately, believing that your business should exercise more agility isn’t enough to make the company more agile and some of the results from the survey are a tad bit depressing.

For instance, two-thirds of survey participants share that applying agile and scrum has created tension within the organization and 70% believe that company leadership and management was to blame for it.

In addition, lack of trust, fear of transparency, lack of predictability, and clearly identified metrics were all sources of tension and anxiety for organizations.

You might be nodding your head in agreement by this point in time!

We need better and more clear vantages.

At Pinpoint we’re not surprised either by any of this because we’ve spent the last year talking with organizations and businesses about their software delivery practices and asking them the really tough questions about whether they have the output that they expect from those processes, procedures, and, most importantly, their people.

Everyone we spoke with and who responded to a number of our surveys have agreed that their software delivery lifecycle is not where it should be, regardless of how agile they might be or how well-oiled their scrum practices and workflows have become.

Personally I think that it’s far too easy to point a finger and blame upper management for many of these problems; I believe that the entire system is unhealthy, from the top all the way down to the individual contributor. At the root of the problem is the lack of an accurate accounting of data and the work that is actually being done.

In other words, the data that leadership does have is either incomplete, inaccurate, or both. The result is not something entirely unexpected: Estimates become more akin to “guesstimates” and in many cases senior leadership simply do not know with absolute certainty what is really going on in their software teams, scrum or no scrum.

This is what we’ve angled our early work towards and it’s resonated deeply as we’re able to pinpoint (see what I did there?) exactly what’s happening and provide a distinctly accurate view for leaders to make better and more actionable decisions.

It’s simple and profound. For instance, we were talking with a large enterprise earlier this week and through the process they asked one of their technical leaders for an exact accounting of the number of GitHub repositories that they current have and all they could do was provide an educated guess. The exact number in actuality was almost 4-times less!

This isn’t to make anyone feel particularly bad nor is it to call anyone out because this is a global epidemic with everyone we’ve chatted with in the last year!

And, this is ultimately why we’ve chosen to dedicate our lives to solving these problems of inaccuracy and incomplete data so that better decisions can be made as a whole.

The point is this: Real agility and real competitive advantage can only be realized when the data that an individual, team, and organization has is accurate, reliable, and available on-demand.

This is also how an organization will continue to say relevant and retain their top talent so that they can weather the inevitable changes that are rapidly changing our industry.

Some of this might be management’s fault but it’s also management’s opportunity. The data is there and it’s just waiting to be uncovered and presented in a way that’s timely and useful.

And this is why Pinpoint exists.

[H/T Scott for reviewing the post.]