A while back, after two decades of making software as a developer and later as a solution architect, I swallowed the blue (or, red) pill and morphed into an Agile Change Agent. My first engagement was as one of the three coaches in charge of a rather hefty Enterprise Agile Transformation effort. There were about 300 members, in 50 teams, spread over 70 locations. Agile transformation was one of the checkboxes in this US$200 million contract and it was showing. First few months, I was naturally drinking from a firehose. We were busy rolling out Agile Mindset training, Team and Project chartering sessions, 1-1 coaching and mentoring for the teams as they gingerly embraced the Agile practices. Iterate, inspect and adapt, we preached and they practiced. “But, how do we measure our own progress? How do we, as agile change makers, inspect and adapt? Are we above the laws of agility so-to-speak?” I foolishly asked one day. I got graciously slapped on my hand for asking the “boo question” and for the time being, I almost convinced myself that, like a mother’s love for the child, admittedly not everything can be measured. However, coming fresh off the board from a delivery-centric, data-driven vocation of software engineering, it pricked my conscience to no end. And the irony is, this whole “Agile movement” was started off the efforts of some software engineers.
I was not at a point to question the sanity of my decision of becoming an Agile Change Maker. The potential for creating positive impact is just too great. However, let’s just say, I was close.
That is until I came across Comparative Agility and the likes making the rounds in the Agile Community, that restored my faith. In case you have not checked it out yet, Comparative Agility is a Continuous Improvement and Agile Assessment Platform. It allows teams and Agile change-agents to gauge the measure of team cohesion and effectiveness and the level of adoption of various Agile and DevOps practices through a series of Likert surveys. The best part of it, the “platform” not only lets you feast on your own teams result but lets you get an understanding of where your organization stands in comparison to others in your industry. Full disclosure: I have recently joined the Advisory Team of Comparative Agility (Thank you CA team :). Since then, I have seen several other similar approaches, some custom, in-house ones as well. Bottom line is, as Agile Change Agents, our success is tied to the success of the teams we work with. Establishing baselines around the agility of the team not only helps the team gauge where they are, but it also helps us measure the efficacy of our own engagement.
Convinced, I am in the right(eous) track demanding from ourselves “some measure” of success for our effort, I am incorporating similar, but albeit light-weight Likert Surveys, in all the value driven efforts. So far, no one has complained.
So, to walk the walk, it behooves on the Agile Change Agents to establish some measurable, value-driven metrics around our transformation effort. And the sooner the better.
How do you assess your and your team’s Agility?