If you have led, coached, or participated in an organizational transformation to Agile, it will be just a matter of time before someone asks “How do we know if we are truly Agile?” or “How do we know if our Agile teams are healthy and doing well?” Good questions often coming from leadership.
I have recently been working on answering these questions for our company and I quickly realized there is a challenge to measuring how “agile” a team or an organization is. It’s probably similar to measuring how “in love” someone is. You just know it when its right. It’s great when you are in a positive relationship and painful when you are not.
Measuring how “agile” a team or an organization is can be a little like measuring how much in love you are.
So measuring Agility in absolutes seems close to impossible but I feel there are some symptoms and danger signs we can be looking for. These symptoms could provide enough data to begin coaching teams before they fall out of Agility.
What should we look for:
Is the team self-healing? A team will never be perfect but they should be learning, improving, and adapting.
Is the team working well together? A team should be gelling and forming natural bonds with each other.
To measure these symptoms, I began building a small dashboard updated after every sprint to decide if there is any coaching I should follow-up with the Scrum Master on the team.
The dashboard consists of:
Completed / Committed Stories. There will be a temptation to track team velocity but refrain from doing so as there is too much variability. To gauge a teams ability to plan effectively, we started tracking the percentage of stories they are completing vs. the number of stories they committed to in each sprint. In the spirit of self-healing, we have set up a scale to determine how well the team is able to correct themselves.
Below 75% or above 125% would be flagged as poorly planned.
During the past 4 sprints:
0 poorly planned sprints = Excellent
1 = Good
2 = Average
3 = Watch
4 = Bad
Team Composition. For our Agile teams, its important to have all of the Core Discovery roles filled. Anytime this number dips below 3, it is flagged.
Team Size. Over time, the inclination will be to add more people to a team as this is easier than starting a new team. Any team over 9 would be flagged as being too big.
Team Member Dedication. Another inclination leaders may have is to split people across multiple teams. As we all know, this is very frustrating for the team but more so for the person being split. While we can never get rid of this entirely, let’s track it to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. Anything over 33% is flagged.
Family Fun. We would like our teams to be celebratory and have a sense of togetherness. At least every 2 months, we want the teams heading out of the office for food, drinks, and fun.
This is our first pass and I’m sure we will adjust as we go along. Again, these metrics should just be used to sniff out any symptoms possibly leading to bigger issues. As leaders, we ultimately want to staff teams appropriately and coach teams to be self-healing and self-accountable.
UPDATE: You can download a copy of this template here: http://illustratedagile.com/files/agile-health-dashboard-template.xlsx
UPDATE 2: You can receive version 2 of this dashboard (seen below with more features and metrics than the first version) by becoming an Illustrated Agile subscriber. Existing subscribers can find a link and password in the latest email from Illustrated Agile.