Using Agility Assessments to help Teams Continuously Improve

Using Agility Assessments to help Teams Continuously Improve

Practicing agile ways of working is all about constantly learning to improve and adapting what works best in a given environment. Agile teams can use tools like the Comparative Agility Assessment to see progress over time and target specific areas for improvement.

Using Agility Assessments to Improve

For example, an agile team needs to conduct Sprint Retrospectives to reflect on the team’s current way of working, identify future improvement opportunities, and create action items to work on those improvement areas. The agile team also conducts Sprint Reviews to obtain feedback from customers and stakeholders on their current iteration so that they can validate and improve the solution they created during the Sprint.

However, while these team events provide opportunities for the team to obtain feedback and make necessary adjustments to improve their agile ways of working, it isn’t easy to assess and quantify the overall team’s improvement over a period in a meaningful way.

Have you ever wondered:

  • Is my agile team improving its agile ways of working over a period?
  • What should we measure to assess our team’s agile journey?
  • How does our agile teams’ agile journey compare to others?

To address these key questions, you need to have a set of comprehensive team agility questionnaires grouped into various areas/dimensions, ask your team members to complete them at intervals, like every quarter or semi-annually, and assess the response results. You can then share these results with the agile team and support them in developing action items to continuously improve their agile ways of working.

Luckily, one way to save time and trouble creating and conducting a comprehensive agility assessment is to leverage an assessment tool like Comparative Agility. Comparative Agility is a web-based Continuous Improvement Platform with many different types of team assessments.

In this example, I have used the original Comparative Agile survey that agile thought leaders Mike Cohn and Ken Rubin created.  This assessment includes 66 questions and measures how teams perform across eight agility dimensions. That team can then be compared to the Comparative Agility World Index, which is comprised of data from more than 14,000 companies assessed since 2008.

Here’s an example of the results of this assessment tool can provide. Below is a spider diagram that shows how one agile team rated themselves in Q1 vs. Q3 and how they compare to the World Index.



Using this data, this agile team can visually see where and how much they have improved and where they are compared to the World Index. Furthermore, the detailed assessment results provide areas of strength and opportunities for the team. That detail allows them to pinpoint areas to improve.

Here’s an example of what I mean by the detail and what the team did to improve their ways of working.

When we say “Opportunities,” we refer to areas where the team can improve. Looking at the Spider Diagram above, we can see that this team performed poorly in the Knowledge-Creating dimension in Q1. This was primarily due to the team not regularly conducting Sprint Reviews and engaging stakeholders for feedback, holding Sprint Retrospective meetings to reflect on how the team was performing in a given sprint, and acting on feedback and improvements needed in a timely manner.

As we peeled the onion, we found that some team members needed to understand better the benefits of holding these events and thus did not see the value of conducting these Sprint events. There was some resistance, and it took time to work through them. After completing several Sprint Reviews and Retrospectives and discussing their outcomes, the team became more supportive of these events. Team members worked on improving their delivery of demos and drawing feedback from stakeholders, became more participatory in the Sprint Retrospectives, and followed up on action items from these events. Thus by Q3, the Team’s Knowledge-Creating jumped to 4.9 from 2.0.

Bottom Line – Using Agility Assessments

When your organization practices business agility, your organization is on an agile journey. You want your teams to continuously learn, adapt, and improve their agile ways of working. Using a tool like the Comparative Agility Assessment, you can assess your team’s agile maturity, gain insights into the team’s agile journey, and plan for the future.


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By Anthony Mersino

Anthony Mersino is the founder of Vitality Chicago, an Agile Training and Coaching firm devoted to helping Teams THRIVE and Organizations TRANSFORM. He is also the author of two books, Agile Project Management, and Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers.

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