Statistics/Demographics on Leaders and ICs within Agile organizations?

Last post 05:41 pm March 22, 2019
by Connor Roberts
3 replies
08:01 pm March 18, 2019

Friends, I am seeking studies, demographics, analytics, information on the folks that work in an Agile organization (or at least in organizations that claim to be Agile). I am coming to the realization that if a new leader is brought into an org, and they are within 10-15 years of retirement, then they have a propensity to just 'do what they know' and are simply aiming for the golden parachute/path of least resistance (i.e. not going to strive to learn anything new or reinvent the wheel). Mainly I am speaking here of folks that come from non-Agile backgrounds into a company trying to do an Agile transformation. My hypothesis is that these types of leaders who are looking to complete their career and not have to unlearn what they used at other companies, are doing a detriment to any endeavor at that company attempting to follow modern development methodologies - thus they are simply riding their time out, and 'waiting for this whole Agile thing to blow over'. In the meantime, those of us who have much more time left in our career (30-40+ years) are wanting to embrace this stuff now, not 15 years from now.

However, I have nothing to support this hypothesis other than a gut feeling based on experience and the fact that most people are not critical thinkers or learners. I would like to be more scientific about this and am asking this community if they have any data on this that I can use to support or refute my hypothesis. I realize that there are many folks of different ages that strive for excellence, so this post isn't meant to imply or insinuate anything devious - the context I work in is different than yours. If you are finding new leaders joining close to retirement and embracing ideas unfamiliar to them and trying things they have never done before, then great. That is not my context. If the data you provide refutes my hypothesis, then that will be acceptable as well. (Seeking data on both Leadership and Individual Contributors - all levels)

Thank you

08:49 am March 19, 2019

I’m afraid I don’t have the statistics that you are looking for. But I think you have to look at this more in general;

‘how does age control for willingness to change in general?’

Because there is plenty of literature on change management and transformation management in general which applies to your question. I guess age plays a role, but in my personal experience I have noticed that resistance is everywhere. People tend to ‘behave’ in a known environments consistent with the habits they have developed over there. So making someone ‘behave’ differently in a known environment is difficult without changing the environment.

Therefore, big companies when doing major transformations tend to lay-off entire layers of management.

I guess this fits in line with Craig Larman's laws of organizational behavior (founder of LeSS), see:

06:13 pm March 19, 2019

I also have no hard statistics to give you but I do have some circumstantial evidence that doesn't support your hypothesis.  I am 55 years old and would love to retire in the next 10 years. I started software development in 1987. I have worked for many years in leadership roles as high as Assistant Vice President and individual contributor roles such as technical phone support. I worked for most of those years in old fashion command-control management organization modeled after "the way we have always done it".  

Fast forward to today.  I am an Agile Coach in a company that is 13 years old.  Many of the people working here are under 30 years of age. I fully embrace the concepts of servant-leadership and spend a large part of my time teaching/coaching that philosophy.  Many of the people I am coaching are in the under 35 years old range and a large percentage of them are having trouble understanding and embracing the concepts.  "How will I know the work is being done right if I don't tell them what to do and how to do it?" is a common question I have heard. As @Filip stated this isn't as much a generational thing as it is an individual's experience thing. I can also see it being influenced by social and cultural norms but again can't substantiate any of this with anything but my experiences. 

If you do find any kind of the hard statistics you are seeking, please come here and share the link so we can all see them.  I would love to add them to my knowledge base.  But honestly, I don't think you will find that kind of information because it is pretty subjective and heavily dependent on the opinions under study. It would take significant effort to find a study group willing to participate in that study and I am guessing it hasn't been considered a priority for anyone to study. 

05:41 pm March 22, 2019

Thank you for the feedback. I realize that the folks on this forum will likely have a might higher percentage of involvement, openness, willingness, etc, regardless of age or tenure. I mean, the fact that you are registered here and engaging in the online community means you have more passion that the majority that don't do that, so yes - I too have Scrum Masters that are more veteran in their careers and they are very open minded, but we're talking about practicioners of the craft now. Where I've seen the main problem, and basis for my hypothesis, is in non-Agile specific folks. Development Managers/Directors/VPs, Product Directors/VPs, etc. Obviously those who have sought Agile Coach or Scrum Master titles/career paths will be more open to this stuff, so I am really trying to find data on Dev/QA/Product/BA/DBA/and anyone else with non-Agile/Scrum titles.