Effective Agile Maturity Assessment: Considerations
In this article, we will look at considerations to make maturity assessment effective, to get buy-in from agile squads/teams.
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Enterprises are adopting agile to deliver valuable software quickly. Agile/Scrum teams being formed are expected to become more cross-functional, self-organized, and imbibe agile values and principle mindset along this journey.
Why Agile Maturity Assessment
Enterprises need a data-driven approach to measure/understand the maturity of the organization/department. To understand where enterprises are in their agility journey, agile maturity assessments are conducted.
While there are various maturity models in the industry, our focus is here is on the agile transformation maturity model. The assessments typically are questionnaires designed to evaluate the level of agility in enterprise/squads.
Maturity assessments are expected to help:
- Enterprises to track the progress of agile maturity in squads.
- Opportunity for organization/leadership to listen to feedback coming from squads, and be a servant leader to remove impediments.
- Squads to reflect on the improvements required and work on the areas of improvement.
So what are the key elements that make maturity assessment effective and get buy-in from squads/teams? Here are a few:
Let's briefly touch upon these elements:
- Intent — It is very important to articulate why assessments are being conducted, its objective, who all are expected to participate, how the agile teams are expected to be involved, and the outcomes expected.
- Maturity Model — Has the enterprise described what are the areas the maturity assessment expects to focus on (say values, principles, behaviors, engineering practices, etc.), the framing of the questionnaire so that there are clarity and unambiguity.
- Assessment Approach — Enterprises need to think about how agile teams will conduct the maturity assessment, whether they would suggest self-assessment, OR moderated approach where an agile coach is involved in moderation. What is the frequency of the assessment, and how the maturity assessment data would be communicated back to the teams, leadership? The enterprise should provide guidance that actions (resulting from the assessment), that can be owned by the agile teams need to be addressed on an ongoing basis during retrospective.
- Communication — In all these, there needs to be clarity and clear communication as to how the assessment data would be consumed at different levels in the organization (squad, fleet/program, division, organization, etc.). The communication needs to be effective to address the psychological safety of the squads so that assessments are effective/honest. Leadership should reinforce that it is an opportunity for them to listen to teams' feedback, and would be taking servant leader role to help remove impediments.
It has been observed that maturity assessments are more effective where enterprises communicate that maturity scores are seen more as a starting point in the continuous improvement journey. The score itself is not the focus, but on the improvement in agile maturity.
As long as there is the recognition that change is hard, and maturity improvement by agile teams can be done in a gradual way, there would be more buy-in by squads/teams. As maturity improves across teams, it is expected the organization/division/squad has improved its ability to be more responsive to changing business environment.
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