Agile Assessment: How to Know Where You Are

With all due respect to Shakespeare, the question no longer is To Be or Not To Be [Agile]?

If you’re reading this blog, you have already made the decision to be Agile on an individual level and are working in environments that have decided that Agile is a worthwhile goal.

So, in order to move towards Agility, we need a roadmap. And as Agile coaches or practioners, we are often tasked to create this roadmap. An effective roadmap requires at least two points: the starting point and the destination.

This blog is about the starting point. For, if we do not know where we are, it is rather difficult to get to the destination effectively taking into account real-world constraints of schedule, cost, etc.

In order to determine an organization’s current state, we typically do an Agile assessment. Most current assessment models are practice-based. That is, they assess the quantity and quality of Agile practices — doing Agile — and extrapolate from there. But increasingly we are seeing and experiencing organizations that are not getting the expected benefits of Agile, despite rather diligent implementation and execution of Agile practices.

Therefore, I propose, that an outcomes based Agile assessment model, with the Agile principles at its core, would be more effective in helping us create a customized roadmap for each environment and help our organizations reap the benefits of being Agile.

I’ve put together a workshop that will explore various metrics that can capture the essence of the Agile principles and how these metrics can be combined to create an outcomes based Agile assessment model with descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics.

I’ve gone through this process myself and found it to be equal parts frustrating and enlightening. This concept has been submitted to AgileDC and I’ve been asked to do this workshop at my current organization, so will keep you all updated on the results.

For those of who are interested in this concept, here is my outline for a 45 minute timeframe:

  • Assessment — where are we now?  [5 minutes]
  • Practice-based vs. Outcomes-based [5 minutes]
  • Mapping outcomes to principles — hands-on exercise [20 min]
    • Depending upon number of attendees, will form subgroups for each of the 12 principles
    • Each subgroup will generate possible metrics and discuss value [I will provide some prompts]
  • Group review and discussion [10 minutes]
  • Summary [5 minutes]

If you do this exercise, I would really like to hear about your experiences. So please add a comment here or send me an email.


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