How do agile organizations age?

Working in start-ups and newer organizations has advantages and disadvantages form working in large and more established organizations. With regards to age, more established organizations are likely to use the waterfall method, or a variation of it, for software development. Newer organizations with less people, and not having years of internal process augmentation tend to use more agile software development methods. Just look at how often new organizations such as Evernote and LinkedIn release small incremental improvements to their core product.

A question came to mind this week that we may not fully be able to answer yet. Will new organizations that start with agile software development methods keep those methods as they grow larger and maturer?It’s related to the old question of can a big company be agile? But I’m really wondering can a company that starts agile, stay agile? There are many things that happen with a maturing organization which will challenge the software development process to stay nimble. Process augmentation, increased stakeholders, legal compliance, and certification standards to name a few.

Would you say that companies such as Google and Amazon have overcome this hurdle? Google releases new software covering a wide variety of features at a dizzying pace. Amazon is constantly tweaking their retail site finding what works and what doesn’t.  Can they do this because they have a large number of resources at their disposal or is it related to their continued use of agile and nimble software development processes?