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The State of Agile 2007: At the precipice of Scaled Agile

Published in Agile

Written by

Maarit Laanti
SAFe Fellow

Maarit Laanti, a SAFe Fellow, is one of the contributors to SAFe methodology and is the first certified SAFe program consultant trainer in Finland. Maarit has done her dissertation on large-scale agile transformation.


June 13, 2022 · 4 min read time

What happened in agile development in 2007 when I was transforming Nokia’s product development processes to agile? The most significant change was related to how we transformed our way-of-working into agile in the Research and Development. We didn’t yet know how this would work out, but we decided to try.

Now 15 years later, I am grateful for the courageous decisions of that time. We got to see the results in practice. At Nitor, I have taken these valuable lessons forward: this spring, we have already trained more than 10,000 people in agile methods.

1. Agile methods enabled a successful programme in a large organisation

I was looking for better ways to do product development and decided to try agile methods in a large program I led. When we were also economically successful, I decided to research that and do a PhD on the subject.

Large development programmes are truly complex. Often you feel that there are too many parts moving simultaneously. Incremental deliveries help deal with complexity and help to maintain focus. Taking incremental, continuous development into use means a massive change for the ways of working compared to the traditional way.

2. The people perspective was an integral part when agile grew within the organisation

When I was doing research on agile methods on a large scale I wanted to find a way of working that would be good for the people and more profitable for the business. In a world of increasing competition, I think it is important to find new ways of working that are beneficial and respect people. I also think that our common European set of values is important.

Agile Manifesto has from the start had a strong human perspective. When organisations do well, the surrounding society also benefits. Today, there is a lot of discussion about business ethics and sustainable development. I see these factors becoming even more important in the future agile operating models.

3. The first Agile Release Train in 2007

It is interesting to look back 15 years because, in 2007, we successfully launched the first Agile Release Train at Nokia’s S60SW Platform organisation. As a result, we launched the N8 Touch Phone that was a big step forward. Implementing the Release Train significantly improved communication and made work faster and better. It had a positive effect on hundreds of people, either directly or indirectly.

The year 2022: How does the world look like after a global pandemic?

Agile budgeting, cloud technologies, artificial intelligence, and the growing use of data in decision-making are currently hot topics in agile. Lean Portfolio Management is critical in benefiting from these new technologies fully, as it enables an organisation to quickly react to the detected signals.

Companies are beginning to see the scale of business benefits when they can make decisions quickly. Agility is also gaining momentum regardless of the industry in question. A clear current trend and the next big thing is the move into agile hardware development.

However, at the heart of agility is the ability to solve problems and develop things together. Experts of today and in the future do not want a traditional organisational model where a leader makes the decisions and orders how things are done. Agile methods are needed in order to conquer the future challenges together, using everyone's intelligence.

Looking into 2037: Utilising software and robotics helps create sustainable, energy-efficient solutions

The last few years have shown us that it is impossible to know what will happen in the years to come. This is why I think it is essential to grow the capabilities that help react to change quickly: building knowledge through data, and combining it with the rapid decision-making enabled by Lean Portfolio Management.

Over the next 15 years, I believe that some significant trends will be energy efficiency and the growth of software and robotics. Utilising software helps reduce the use of resources, and robotics provides automation for dangerous work. We see how people's work has become lighter, more fun, and less dangerous with automation and robotics. I see this as promising opportunity for us.

I have a great trust in humanity and our intent to use available technologies correctly and ethically. I see the perceived threats associated with artificial intelligence similar to the fears we had about high-speed trains when they first came. Quickly we saw, however, that we as humans can handle a speed of 50 km/h while sitting on a train.

My wishes for the future: More time for intellectual work as well as fun, creative endeavours

I hope that in the future, people will have more time for creative and fun work that gives fulfillment and the opportunity to contribute to society. We are currently facing a bigger change towards organisational agility which manifests in how old ways to lead are challenged.

It looks like companies are increasingly genuinely adopting Lean Portfolio Management. It gives the tools to create an environment where it is a little bit easier to navigate the storms of our current world. We also need agile methods to solve the current big problems that we face as humankind.

Written by

Maarit Laanti
SAFe Fellow

Maarit Laanti, a SAFe Fellow, is one of the contributors to SAFe methodology and is the first certified SAFe program consultant trainer in Finland. Maarit has done her dissertation on large-scale agile transformation.