Each year, a large worldwide survey is conducted on the state of agile and its adoption.\u00a0 Recently, the results from the 12th survey were published, and they contain insights into where we are heading as an industry.\u00a0 The survey also reveals some of the challenges agile adoption and maturation faces.\u00a0 One challenge should make us all sit up and take notice.\nThe independent survey is sponsored by VersionOne, an agile software tool vendor. \u00a0The results are not focused on tools but rather the larger state of the agile community.\u00a0 Individuals surveyed cut across a wide swath of geographies and industries worldwide, with a variety of needs and ways of working.\nSurvey says\u2026.\nHere are some interesting highpoints of the survey:\n\n97% of technology organizations are using agile development in at least one team, yet the depth of adoption is not high.\u00a0\nOf these organizations, 98% had experienced successes at the project level.\u00a0 The primary reasons for adopting agile are to accelerate delivery, and to manage constantly changing business priorities.\u00a0\n78% of these organizations report they are still experimenting with agile or that teams are still maturing.\nOnly 12% of these organizations report that they have a high level of competency in using agile.\n\nOrganizations are undoubtedly realizing the benefits of agile approaches to delivery.\u00a0 This is confirmed by the fact that agile adoption has grown so significantly that almost every organization is using it or experimenting with it.\u00a0 This is good news in an era where speed of delivery is a requirement and a distinct competitive advantage for businesses.\nThe fact that many organizations are still maturing, and few report high levels of competency should make us stop and think.\u00a0 Both agile and scrum have been around for a while.\u00a0 The agile manifesto was written in 2001.\u00a0 Scrum had been in use for 10 years prior to this.\u00a0 Why are we still struggling?\u00a0 After all, agile is a set of values that are not hard to understand.\u00a0 Scrum, the most popular version of agile, is easy to understand.\u00a0 What are we doing wrong, and what do we need to change? \u00a0\nPeople don\u2019t like change, and culture empowers resistance\nAccording to this year\u2019s survey, the top theme that emerges from its results is that \u201cOrganizational Culture Matters.\u201d\u00a0 Specifically, \u201corganizational culture stands out as a critical factor in the success of adopting and scaling agile. The three most significant challenges to agile adoption and scaling are reported as organizational culture at odds with agile values (53%), general organizational resistance to change (46%), and inadequate management support and sponsorship (42%).\u201d\u00a0 Or, as a good friend likes to remind me - people are messy.\u00a0\nResistance to any change and cultural challenges should be expected, anticipated, and planned for before beginning an agile or digital initiative.\u00a0 Robert Tanner documents eight reasons why people resist change in an organization:\n\nLoss of status or job security in the organization.\nPoorly aligned (non-reinforcing) reward systems.\nSurprise and fear of the unknown.\nPeer pressure.\nClimate of mistrust.\nOrganizational politics.\nFear of failure.\nFaulty Implementation approach (including lack of tact or poor timing).\n\nThese forces are at work and oppose the adoption of agile and scrum, and in many organizations\u2019 cultures they are magnified.\u00a0 In speaking with executives and organizations, I hear that the impact of agile and scrum are often strangled by these forces.\u00a0 Many have tried a \u201cbig bang\u201d approach to agile adoption that includes bringing in training and coaches.\u00a0 The all-too-common refrain is that after the coaches leave, everyone goes back to doing what they did before they came.\u00a0 This is costly and inefficient for companies and casts a shadow over agile.\u00a0 We need to do better, and start thinking about a way to bring about agile adoption successfully.\u00a0 Agile and scrum work \u2013 but people and cultures frequently distort, mask, and hide its value.\nProactive steps\nAs organizations struggle to push agile adoption forward, and as the agile community of practice grows, it\u2019s time for us to raise the bar.\u00a0 We can do better.\u00a0 To realize the benefits agile delivery brings, we need a proactive approach to culture change to foster agile maturity. This approach should account for three critical success factors:\n\nFirst, each business exists in a unique cultural context that should be addressed and accommodated.\nSecond, the approach should allow for immediate realization of the benefits of agile delivery including accelerated delivery, project visibility, improved team productivity, improved business alignment and the ability to quickly respond to ever-changing priorities.\nFinally, the approach should allow organizations to plan forward, and identify logical next steps as they transform technology organizations to realize these benefits for business customers.\n\nRecognizing that an agile or digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all proposition for unique organizations and cultures is a good start.\u00a0 We must plan for culture and change management, and just not blindly march forward assuming everyone will fall in line.\u00a0 They won\u2019t \u2013 and we should accept that part of our job is to persuade them and demonstrate success over time.\u00a0 There are no simple shortcuts, and big-bang approaches don\u2019t work.\u00a0 Finally, as we discussed in March\u2019s article, we need to remember that each of the daily interactions we have with our business customers are important in an agile transformation.\u00a0\nAs Zig Ziglar notably said \u201cIf people like you, they'll listen to you, but if they trust you, they'll do business (or adopt agile) with you.\u201d\u00a0 Culture counts in large initiatives like agile or digital transformations \u2013 we must meet our partners on their turf and prove our ideas work.\u00a0 Earning the trust of the business is hard work, and we should be prepared to do this every day, every hour, and every minute.\u00a0 This is our way forward, the way we grow our careers, and the way we will advance agile adoption and practice.