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What are Agile Maturity Assessments?

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In one of my first posts, I covered the 4 Agile Values and 12 Principles. When teams start embracing more agile ways of working, they need to understand that this will take time and requires consistent effort. Afterall, Rome wasn't built in a day.

How do you know as a team that you are heading in the right direction? Are the new ceremonies, artefacts, improvements etc having the desired effect? Which areas do you want to focus on next?

This is where Agile Maturity Assessments, a.k.a. Team Health Checks can come in handy.

These help assess agile teams across different areas, which can typically be categorised as: People, Process, Data, and Tools. By applying a consistent approach you can measure developments over time. The results can be summarised in tables or spider graphs, which help you identify further improvement areas.

These can be done in the form of surveys, team discussions during a retrospective, or through a dedicated workshop.

How often should you do an Agile Maturity Assessment?

There is no hard or fast rule, but I personally believe quarterly is ideal. Three months is sufficient time to make noticeable headway, and then pivot as required. It also fits in nicely with the typical quarterly cadence of most businesses. For teams still getting used to agile ways of working, perhaps more frequent assessments might be useful.

Spotify's Squad Health Check Model

I came across Spotify's team maturity workshop format, and was impressed. They gamified things with playing cards describing the desired state, and the opposite. The idea is for the team to discuss each card, and then for each individual member to vote Red/Amber/Green on the topic. Trends and results are visualised, which helps identify focus areas. I'm yet to give it a go, but you can find details here. You can even download a ppt file to help you get started.

MetaPM Agile Health Checklist

Another useful tool is MetaPM's Agile Health Checklist. An easy to use Excel file with questions you can score. The results are represented in a spiderchart. You can download the file for free here. You just need to leave some personal details.

Some important points regarding Agile Maturity Assessements

They should not be used as a performance management tool. Ever. Period. It might be tempting for leadership to compare scores between teams, but there is not much point in doing this. The results are only relevant for the specific team. Any push from management to lift scores, will only encourage gaming of the results and render the excercise useless.

It is also crucial that the teams feel completely safe to honestly discuss where they think the team is at. Psychological safety is crucial for honest results.

As an agile practioner, I really enjoy the activity. It demonstrates how far the teams have come, and provides crucial input to my coaching plans with the teams. It encourages teams to self-inspect, which strengthens their autonomy, improve the culture and encourage continuous improvement and development. What's there not to like!

I have quite a few different examples. Get in touch if you need some inspiration!


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