Community poll results are here!

Agile Finland ry conducted our first-ever community poll with two main intentions:

  1. We wanted to know who our members are – understood in the widest possible way as community members that we are able to reach for the poll
  2. We wanted to know how we’re doing in the perspective of these members as a baseline of improving things significantly

This article outlines what we learned from the poll and answers of 111 community members who kindly contributed their time for helping us improve Agile Finland.

Net Promoter Score

Our first and only compulsory question in the entire poll was “How likely is it that you would recommend Agile Finland to a friend or colleague?” – a so called Net Promoter Score (NPS). With NPS, 0-6 are Detractors, 7-8 are Passives and 9-10 are Promoters, and NPS is counted as percentage of Recommenders minus percentage of Detractors, and is a number between -100 and +100.

AF-NPS-2014Agile Finland ry got a NPS of 14. Out of the respondents, we have 41 % Passives,  37 % Promoters and 23 % Detractors. These don’t add to a 100 %, since Passives and Detractors both are rounded up from .5 they end up at. NPS however is a number without the percentage.

Who are our members

We asked about your titles (from a business card – if you would have one) to understand what kinds of job roles we have in our reach. It seems that the titles were in general very varied, and built a wordle from the words in your titles.

Wordle: AgileFinlandTitles

We also asked about organisation context you work on, with options of

  • Consultancy – we help others improve what they do
  • Contracting – we work on someone else’s product
  • Product development – we have our own product we work on
  • Customer – we have a product we work on and use contractors for development
  • Public service – we work in schools, universities, health care

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 00.44.53

Organisation sizes you work in were also a question we asked. Since we are interested in you as individuals, I would not read much into this result as to what size organisations are interested in agile. To me it looks like smart people from all sizes of organisations are interested enough to participate with Agile Finland.

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So it appears that we have seniors, engineers/developers and managers and half of our members work with product development, and the other half is almost equally split between contracting and consulting. The non-software companies using agile methods seem to be for now out of our reach and it is nice to know that helping that type of organisations succeed is a theme the agile ownership group is working on, even though we might not have reached those people with this poll.

How Cross-Functional Individuals are?

We asked you what kind of activities you do today and you see yourself doing in 5 years. We used rough activity categories out of which you could choose one or as many as you like.

  • Programming + Technical Design + Unit/Component Testing
  • End-to-end Testing (System, Release, User Acceptance, …)
  • Design
  • Product/Project/Team Management
  • Teaching/Coaching
  • Business Management / BD
  • Marketing/Sales
  • HR/Finances/Administration
  • Other

First observation from data is that while we talk about Agilists typically doing many types of things, the data suggested that there’s still quite much specialization. Majority of respondent work on one or just few of the activities we asked about. And the most common activities seem to be Management and Training/Coaching, Programming being a close third.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 00.45.25Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 00.45.35

Out of 68 respondents that marked they work on Programming + Technical Design + Unit/Component testing, 40 respondent also do End-to-end testing, and 25 do Design, whereas 40 do Product/Project/Team Management. Only 19 out of 68 would say they work on combination of Programming, End-to-End testing and Design.

Out of 42 respondents that marked they don’t work on Programming + Technical Design + Unit/Component testing at all, 9 work on End-to-end Testing, 11 work on Design and 29 work on Product/Project/Team Management.

Future aspirations include Change

Out of the respondents, 21 wanted to drop at least one area of activity they work on now for 5 years into the future. 42 respondents would have same number of areas of activities, and 46 people would add more areas of activities. The picture below shows what activities were to be added or dropped in relation to what were given as current activities.

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From the data, it would appear that End-to-end testing is something people choose to drop most and the area has very few respondents seeking into growing to that direction. Also, programming would see more people give up on that than to add it to their selection. The most popular things to add are business management and teaching/coaching – both of which none wants to let go if doing those now.


 Agile Experience and Being Agile

We asked the respondents years of Agile experience and years of Agile Experience for their organisation. Minimum value in the data for both of the questions was 0, and it was nice to note that we have beginners in the crowd. Maximum agile experience on an individual was 20 years and 15 years for a company. Average (as well as Median) for individuals was 7 years, and average for companies 5 years.

Some respondents appeared a little confused with our question of “Please explain what ‘being agile’ means to you?”. We ask this, as we’re currently seeking all the things Agile Finland would and could stand for, and we considered this a key question. Here’s what we learned, quoting respondents.

It could mean anything:

  • Not much. It feels like Agile can mean/be anything nowadays.

It’s the new definition of all things positive:

  • Organised, prepared, successful
  • Sanity, spirit
  • Flexibility
  • Common sense
  • Not being stiff at joints. Flex when needed.

It means a mindset that permeates other areas than just software development:

  • Being agile in a big scale. Not just in technical design or in development, but being agile & lean in business context. It is a mindset, not a technique.
  • Agility applies to the product(s), the architecture, team/company processes, the organisation, and the business. (Again, many people think agility is mainly about product change and perhaps limited process change.)
  • It’s an approach to everything – step-by-step, concrete/measurable results, continuous review/decisions.   The importance of the agile methods/tools are some times overrated compared to peoples’ mindset. However, tools and methods are easier to train for people.

It means value-orientation:

  • Eyes on the prize
  • Focusing on value, learning, and people who make it happen.
  • Focus on value
  • Value-orientation, happy people, personal responsibility, skills, collaboration
  • Adaptive and always focusing on delivering value to the end users
  • Doing things smartly, iteratively and delivering to customers next small valuable item at a time.
  • Iterative, self-improving development process focused on creating real value
  • Value for money for the customer; Prioritise what is the most important.
  • Iterative development as opposed to big bang in the end. First make a skateboard then bicycle them motorcycle then car.

It means focus on values and thinking:

  • Agile manifesto explains the best
  • It’s about ‘being agile’. Mostly ‘thinking agile’. Being aware of personalities behind ‘numbers’.
  • Working smart. Having the mindset to challenge your own thinking and known truths
  • This quotation from blog post nicely summarises lots of my thoughts:
    “We want an environment where we do not need to tell lies. We want to be able to communicate openly and authentically at work so that we can be effective.” (

It means collaboration:

  • Producing the right stuff for the customer with relevant people while keeping the maintenance effort in balance
  • Collaborating with team and doing what ever is needed to get value to customer.
  • Customer oriented development with good handling of the unpredictability of the development process.
  • Finding solutions for complex problems as a hyper-productive team.
  • Communication, collaboration, questioning, improvement
  • Besides the continuous improvements process flow I am BEING AGILE by involving the customer and the whole team in to the process and preparing the project to the fact that the plans will change during the process.
  • Being agile means that I can do meaningful things within tight collaboration with customer. It means that we can continuously learn and improve. It means that we trust each other.

It means caring for people:

  • Care of people and demonstration of trust.

It means happy customers:

  • Better customer experience
  • Continuous improvement, embracing change, doing software like people mattered, tools are unimportant and the end result counts. Customer satisfaction.
  • Customer centric, fast to adapt to changes, maximum value with minimal waste

It means asking the people who will do the work:

  • Using development team to create estimates for release schedule creation.
  • It means a new way of thinking, feeling to be an agile, co-operation, communication, trust, respect; about of human values
  • Need to have good tech set up (CI, deployment mechanisms) to do agile programming with good quality.

It means a particular team setup:

  • cross-functional, self-organising team

It means leading, not managing:

  • Short iteration, frequent feedback, continuous improvement, being responsive to change, self-organising, leading not managing, harnessing intrinsic motivation and innovation
  • Thin layer of management. Sane, trackable and transparent decision making and ways or working. Self-organising people, trust. Ability to work in many roles.

It means smart planning:

  • Incremental with no large up-front planning, any activity that can be continuous will be made continuous, elimination of pre-set manual checkpoints or milestones, and using tooling to drive towards a pull model in work coordination
  • Quick to react – plan for the future
  • Don’t plan too far ahead because things will change
  • Less managers and planning
  • Transparency, planning, balancing reactive and proactive work
  • Empowering people, reacting to changes instead of following a fixed plan, maximising value for the customers
  • Adaptive planning
  • Able to adapt changes fast and efficient way without need to compromise quality, schedule, etc.

It means continuous feedback and visibility:

  • Inspect and adapt; The aim to create a better world (happier customers, happier teams, happier business-owners) by actively collecting and acting upon real-world feedback.
  • Short feedback cycles (e.g. continuous integration), servant leadership, self-organised teams, automation routine tasks, kanban/scrum kind of methods, not planning ahead all the details.
  • Fast continuous integration
  • Short and flexible implementation periods with good visibility to all stakeholders
  • Shorten feedback loops.
  • Working in short sprints or loops. Checking where we are going at each loop level.
  • Not afraid to fail
  • Usually by means of utilising iterative and incremental development and methods, practices and techniques that assure that each increment meets the definition of done
  • Prototyping early to find out what the user want and do not want
  • Being able to act and deliver quickly based on new knowledge.
  • Transparency, inspecting and adapting on the go, focusing on value.

It means ability to react:

  • Being able to react faster to customer needs

It means small batches:

  • Working in smaller batches, rather than large ones. Autonomination (automation that supports people to do their job). Empowerment. Better tools that make it easier to progress, and no not trouble the users. Information radiators. Visual management.

It means releasing often:

  • Rapid releases in mobile app projects
  • Able to work quickly and well, fast paced development, frequent validation and adaptation, delivering often and good stuff
  • Iterative development. Start with basic feature set, learn, add, release often. Use test automation

It means accepting change and adapting:

  • Maintaining the ability to conform to new client requirements or changes in the environment.
  • End user involvement & adaptation according to changing needs. Adaptation is made possible by incremental and iterative design and implementation.
  • Adapt changes fast, being flexible, thinking out of box.
  • Changing both the product and the process of building the product based on observations and corrections. Often. The more often and the less waste, the more agile.
  • Having a way to work where changes are accounted for, where people are self-directive, and where delivery is incremental according to customer expectations.
  • Questioning dogmas and adapting to current situation.
  • Adapting to change; Fast adaptation to change
  • Embracing change and loving uncertainty.
  • The ability to continuously adapt to change and learn from it, as well as the ability to create change to speed up learning and keep your competitors behind. (Many people forget about learning and creating change.)
  • Reacting to change rather than planning too much ahead, striving to deliver value to the customer as early and often as possible, having discipline to say no…
  • Kaizen, inspect and adapt
  • Quick response to chance, putting Research back to R&D
  • Ability to quickly respond to changes in requirements

It means flow and focus on time:

  • Emphasis on product quality and lead time optimisation

It means learning and changing the ways we work in:

  • Do what works in your context and improve continuously
  • Inspect – adapt, continuous learning
  • Constant improvement
  • Reducing “waste” and constantly improving ways of working.
  • Constant will to develop the way of working.
  • Being able to recognise the need for improvement and having the mindset to execute change when needed. Testing, searching and always trying to get the best and embracing what failures are teaching to us. Not preaching or following pre-set guidelines, but searching for ones own.
  • Constant improvements of everything. Not accepting “this is the way it’s always been done” or “this what we’re supposed to do” for an answer.

It means smart ways of working:

  • Simple: people over procedures. We do things the way we find them best and evaluate our methods to make sure they work. If not, solutions are sought from known best practices.
  • Continuous improvement, self-organising teams, open mindset, challenging of best practices
  • Flow of work, Unity of organisation, Learning as leadership.
  • Trying to do things in a lean and sensible way and constantly reflecting & improving the ways of working
  • Continuous & critical evaluation of processes to make our work *work* better
  • Not following any process by the book just because the book exists.
  • Getting stuff done the most natural and fluent way
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Improved communication, trust. Scrum, backlog, commitment.
  • Using modern and flexible software development methods and fulfilling customers needs

It means particular methods in use:

  • Working on Scrum based projects
  • Committed iterations
  • Useful retrospectives; Demo working software; Identifying impediments
  • Scrum; Sprint Planning; Continuous Improvement; Release management

Agile Finland Channels and Contents

 As we have quite a number of channels, we were curious which ones of those you use and are aware of. Here’s what the data says.

 Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 23.30.30

We asked if you get the info on agile you would find relevant through Agile Finland, and 81 of you says Yes and 24 says No. Those who say No, ask for these:

  • Experiences from the “field”, from the real project and thoughts people face. From “new people”.
  • Answered yes, but would like to get more info on non-agile events related to agile. Business, HR, design, management…
  • I would like to hear more general news and thoughts about / from Finnish Agile Activists. For example, a blogging community that hosts accounts for all interested writers – preferably in Finnish language, but English also works. The rules would be simple: All articles are generally accepted when there is no marketing, politics, aggression, or otherwise “negative” content. Both Scrum Alliance and host similar blogs. I believe one might be great for the AF.
  • More small-scale meetups and events
  • Brief newsletter that collects timely information about things that are coming. There is value in having all new in one place. Actually one primary communication point would be best. So, decide if it is AF website, G+, Linkedin (no, not Facebook…)
  • Curated contents, pointing out what is really good. Making my life easier in selection.
  • Less consultants, more practitioners
  • More “info”. Right it’s now more about events (with great info there!) and not so much about the actual content. So more content on the web too, please.
  • Job opportunities
  • I would have preferred an “I don’t know” option here. I do get info I guess, but I don’t often feel it’s useful or the info I want. I also don’t know what the info I would appreciate would be.
  • More info on local happenings, good resources, and good practices between members.
  • Invitations to happenings
  • I think I’m missing out events and discussions.
  • I’m new here
  • Maybe a tailored infoletter compiled according to my chosen interests within agile.
  • Stupid answer, but I don’t know. It’s all about the right people meeting and communicating about the right topics, not so much about the information but the opportunities to create a working communication network between the professionals.
  • I have found it cumbersome to know which channels I should follow and where to get info
  • More networking
  • more frequent news letters of what is going on

We also asked what content you would find relevant to know of from our list of ideas what content there could be.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 00.02.09

We also checked on your preferences on locations.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 00.08.46

And the event formats.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 00.15.01

And we checked on your preferences for scheduling events.

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It was also great to notice how many people would be interested in contributing. Organising events 26 Yes and 49 Maybe, Articles 51 Yes.

58 people said they are Agile Finland members, whereas 20 said they are not.

Topics for future sessions

  • Coaching public sector staff. Influencing public sector software purchase processes.
  • Innovation. Data driven development, fact based decisions. Early market validation.
  • Scrum transformation
  • Happy working place
  • Management 3.0
  • Agile culture
  • Latest Scrum/Agile topics from the world
  • News from agile world: somebody attended in any agile conference anywhere giving a report from that
  • Networking meetings for trainers and teachers
  • The focus has been a lot on programming & product development.
  • The impediments are often organisational:
  • Big ships turning: Agile Finance (beyond budgeting?), Agile HR,
  • Planning on the top level or budgeting in an agile organisation
  • What does agile mean for the board?”
  • QA
  • Devops, automation, aws, chef, docker, puppet
  • Experience sharing in all formats,
  • Agile in practice. Everyday life in agile environment.
  • Anything closer to code.
  • Transformation, organisational change, teamwork
  • Role of Product Owner. Scaling agile to tens of teams.
  • Moving agile to see the business as a whole
  • Agile and cloud
  • How product/UI design work is done in clever way with agile methods?
  • Marketing of agile (as a community), teaching agile, “what agile could do for your business”
  • Agile on the public sector
  • Bridging business management with agile practices
  • Anything interesting enough
  • Agile introductions/improvement to the company – always relevant and there always could be new idea such as cheap/sponsored visit of experts to your company.
  • Make learning somehow easier
  • Help engaging members who are on the edge of becoming active. E.g. somehow encourage community driven workshops (doesn’t have to be monetary support, but via verbal encouragement, promotion to potential participants, providing room, etc)
  • Why are there so many Agile haters in Finland?
  • Is Agile the answer to all problems?
  • How does Lean and agile go hand in hand?
  • How to tackle organisational impediments?
  • As a scrum master, how to train/coach an agile newbie by myself – like what format should be followed or pattern, etc.”
  • Empathy.
  • Healing or growing healthy new organisations.
  • I strongly mistrust anyone meddling with my work and need to address that mistrust.
  • Sales, markets, customer relations for nerds, management of humans, purposes, redefining work, environment.”
  • Non-functional aspects (any, really, although I am myself a security person) in Continuous Delivery, and especially tooling that helps there
  • Communication improvement methods knowledge spreading methods
  • What id missing from Agile? What is the next “agile” word for kanban, lean, etc?
  • I would be interested in hearing how big organisations have handled agile, success stories from the field and one that were not successful.. Teams telling their stories.. Hello world type of competition for agile etc.. 🙂
  • Collaboration possibilities and shared business interests between Agile organisations in Finland.
  • Creating a culture of learning and knowledge-sharing”
  • Technical debt and its management. Technical debt describes a concept which both bridges the communication cap between different stakeholder groups as well as allows emphasizing certain development driving aspects over others similarly to making investments.
  • Testing
  • Lots of customers at Finland (especially government and public sector) don’t want to buy agile projects because they want fixed price-fixed scope. It is not cost effective and huge amounts of our tax money is used at public sector it-projects that fail in some way. This is something we as a community could try to improve.
  • In addition to the existing good things Architecture, UX & design, DevOps, good coding practices.
  • Spread good word / mindset to everywhere, even in public sector.
  • Beyond R&D agility – what are the benefits of organisational agility (HR agility, Beyond budgeting etc.)
  • Driving organisational change
  • Alternatives to retrospectives
  • ScrumAlliance and agile events – are events such that you could generate those educational units SA mentions.
  • How about the problem of people who are badly burned/frustrated with their job/life/whatnot. I know a few who found almost salvation in Agile. That would be worthwhile work. And also perhaps reduce the possibility of such a saved dude turning into a fundamentalist.
  • Metric usage in Agile world
  • Anything goes, there are so many topics around this area
  • How to introduce new ideas in an organisation
  • Techniques and psychological skills for influencing and selling new ideas
  • Agile marketing
  • Lean and dev-ops, moving on from scrum.
  • Nothing special in mind… All topics related to Agile will do.
  • Collaboration and thinking
  • Using Kanban in small software organisations in internal product development
  • Evaluation of online and offline tools for project management
  • Role of coaching
  • Rapid delivery of mobile apps projects

Finally, what we should have asked but did not so that you get your ideas to us

  • I would like to have here a community of agile organisation transformers, teachers, coaches, trainers, Scrum, Kanban and Lean professionals. I don’t feel like having it now via Agile Finland. I am an active part of Scrum Alliance and would like to see more like that in Finland, too, but may have not met the right people in Agile Finland, only via private networking and connections. How could that happen, I do not know exactly, but hope to become a more active member of this community, too.
  • Job postings to email are mostly spam. Job posting on dedicated job board are ok. And recruiter should learn to post in LinkedIn so that you see who is hiring…
  • About the locations: Longer trips are ok for bigger events.”
  • I think you should rebrand yourselves. What more is there to say about “agile”? How many agile conferences do we need annually in Finland?
  • You have already done this to a certain degree by going to coaching which is not specific to any agile method. Coaching can be useful in situations which have nothing to do with agile methods or even producing software.
  • I urge you to consider rebranding further. Agile methods are an answer, but what is the question? Are there other answers?”
  • Kind of a more open environment. Now whole “scene” feels a bit hard to get into, maybe. But that’s a difficult task to tackle.
  • I find that Agile Finland as organisation is contradicting itself. There’s relatively few releases of value, and a lot of planning that doesn’t result in action.
  • Good work! Good to have community to hear experiences from other companies.
  • Sorry can’t contribute, hardly even follow everything, now that I have small kids. Looking forward to giving back later. AF has helped me transform my career and me, help others too. I am grateful.
  • Are there other “organisations” in Finland that we could work together with when creating events etc.?
  • Now most of your activity is at capitol area (of course that is also where lots of people are). Personally I live near Turku and would like to see more activity here. Now that Turku Agile Day is “on a break” there would certainly be room for some events.
  • Agile practices assume first that people are skilled professionals with high moral standards and everlasting willingness to learn more. Reality in many workplaces might be far from this. How to get involved the people who don’t fit this profile? People who are quite happy in their limited boxes and don’t see any need to improve or change?
  • About funding, what kind of funding questionnaire answerers would seem viable or relevant for them? (People might have ideas, on the other hand it’s up to to decide).
  • What is your motivation factor toward Agile?
  • Keep up the good work. It would be nice to contribute, but at the moment with small kids my time is very limited.
  • What has happened to agile dinners?
  • Newsletters are passé. Try to blog actively.

Maaret Pyhäjärvi

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