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Are We There Yet?
by Paul Hodgetts, Agile Logic Founder & CEO

I was visiting with a team least week, and they asked "How are we doing?" It's a fair question, but I find that very few teams have the practices in place to provide an effective answer.

We first need a basis for measuring success, so we want to list and prioritize our underlying business goals for adopting lean and agile methods. These would include benefits like time to market, productivity, quality, visibility, etc. This is always a valuable and revealing exercise.

Lean and agile methods provide a large and often bewildering range of practices, each of which helps implement desired capabilities. While it would be nice to simply implement them all, most teams can gain a quicker return on their efforts by focusing first on those that contribute to the business value they need.

Once we've identified the set of practices we want to emphasize, how can we tell if we're doing well with them? We need mechanisms for assessing our current capabilities. Our Absolute Agile approach provides us with three very effective means of assessment.
  • Retrospectives are a popular and valuable practice for capturing the observations and opinions of the team members. When conducted frequently (at least once per iteration), they provide an ongoing measure of what's working and not working for the team.
  • Value Stream Mapping is a great lean tool that follows the life of a feature from its conception to its delivery. Value stream maps provide us with a clear view of the bottlenecks, hand-offs and back-flows that highlight opportunities for improving our practices.
  • Structured Assessments probe into the full set of lean and agile practices to identify our areas of strength and weakness. Structured assessments can quickly generate objective data that we can use to measure and track our practice capabilities over time.

In this short article, I've only just mentioned the important aspects of assessments such as defining business goals, capability planning and the specific assessment techniques. Agile Logic provides a full range of workshops and coaching service to help guide your teams through these assessment activities, and to ensure you can use the results to drive your process improvement efforts.