As Kelly Waters explained in his recent blog post about Agile101, one of our challenges as a management team has been Agile Programme Management i.e how to manage an overall portfolio of work when all of the teams are doing Agile.
One of the seven principles of Programme Management is “Learning from Experience”, a principle that sits at the heart of the Agile manifesto. Agile teams use Retrospectives to discuss ‘the following points:
- What went well in the previous sprint?
- What went badly in the previous sprint?
- What will we do differently next time?
I originally learned of the original How Agile Are You survey when Kelly joined our company in late 2008. Kelly was inspired by Nokia measuring the Agility of their teams via a 9 criteria assessment so he took this concept one step further… actually he took it 33 steps further and introduced a 42 point criteria – Read these points and download the survey template (it also allows you to plot team results on a graph).
These 42 questions range from “is the team empowered to make decisions” to “automated unit testing is implemented where appropriate”.
We started off by asking every member of the department to complete the survey. I then collated the results and ranked each criteria by perceived level of compliance i.e. there were a couple of criteria that everyone felt we complied with but opinion was divided in the majority of cases (to varying degrees). In a few instances, there was a unanimous agreement that we did not meet the criteria. Interesting.
We then used the survey results to drive our monthly Programme Level Retrospectives for a time. This helped to add focus to the sessions – we knew where we were under performing and we had a very clear idea for where we wanted to be.
Every month, we reviewed the results and discussed our performance in the five lowest-ranking areas. We brainstormed ways to improve this performance and shared notes on the progress we were making. After this session, each team would choose one or more criteria to focus on over the coming month. They also committed to a number of objectives that we would use to measure their success in the following Retrospective. Each team made different commitments – it was up to them where they wanted to focus.
After a few months, we saw a huge improvement in our adoption of Agile working practices and of the team’s understanding of Agile in general. It was a great learning experience.
Here’s a template you can use to calculate how Agile you are… Once you’ve taken the survey, record your result via the poll below – let’s see how we all do! No cheating :)
- How Agile Are You (Take this 42 Point Test) (All About Agile)