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A List of Agility Tests

How many forms of Agility are there?  I know my friend's dog is a champion at doggy-Agility.  That form of Agility is well know (in the dog community) and it is all about the test.

For the purpose of this list I'm referring to the software development philosophy of Agility (as in Scrum, XP, Lean, etc.).  Since there is only one definition of Agile in the software community - the Agile Manifesto and it's 12 principles; it would appear to be easy to know what Agility meant.  Alas, it is more elusive than a simple Webster's dictionary definition.  There are too many personal and subjective measures.

But is a subjective experience beyond the ability to measure?  No, it is not.  The nature of an Olympic Platform Dive is a subjective event.  Yet it is measured and scored to a high degree of precession and accuracy to determine the winner in an event.  This is the process of moving the subjective beyond the laypersons personal feelings and into the realm of expert opinion.

Every assessment tool used for measure has aspects of reliability and validity.  Do the instruments (surveys) you are using have these aspects quantified?  If not then they are just ad-hoc hunches and in my opinion you are much better off not subjecting a team to them.  Because this form of directive, will prove to the team that you do not believe in good scientific process (after all you have suggested they use an arbitrary instrument of little validity to measure them).  You have also suspended your belief in the Agile Manifesto's "individuals and interaction over processes and tools" by choosing to use a tool when an interaction with the group would achieve the same results.  Results - what results?

What is the expected outcome of an Agility Assessment?  What results are you after?  Most of the companies I've dealt with wish to assess teams agility in hopes of identifying where to concentrate interventions.  Interventions are then designed to address areas in the team's performance where some action is desired to improve that dimension of Agility.  In so many cases one could just as easily ask the team - where do you wish to improve your Agility.  Wow - with just that one question and response (dialogue) not only have you identified a gap but there is an implicit "readiness to change", because they have identified the area for improvement rather than having been told.

List of Agility Assessment Tools
Ben Linders has a list of over 50 agile assessments - doesn't the magnitude of that list prove a point?  There are more agile assessments than there are principle of agile - surely someone is gilding the lily.

For Kanban:
By some measures the light-weight Agile processes have very few rules (about 9 for Scrum).  So how could a test of the process be larger than the process itself e.g. if Scrum only has 9 rules, then a test of scrum would be 9 questions about those rules.

Which Agile Process Should You Choose? a comparative study of Agile processes


Do you know of others - if so please add a comment.

See Also:

Assessments are not evil, however, I believe that if one choses to consume the teams time in performing an assessment then it should be a valid and reliable measure of what you wish to measure. Of all the assessments above I would argue that as of this date (May, 2011) none have been validated. The Nokia test has expert validity (Sutherland) to strongly suggest that it may be valid, however, it's reliability may be questioned as the data that Sutherland sites typically comes from himself (is there a bias conflict within that expert/validation and reliability claim?). My recommendation is the Comparative Agility survey. Rumor has it that Rubin & Cohn are interested in studying the surveys psychometrics (validity & reliability). This survey is very well executed and allows one to compare their relative score to their own over time (longitudinal study) and to other in their industry sector. With over 2400 surveys collected it may be the only large database of Agility surveys in a public domain. Why not chose to support the community by adding your team's assessment to this resource?

Here is a blog post for results of the Comparative Agility Survey on a very agile team I work with back in 2009.
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David's notes on "Drive"

- "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" by Dan Pink.

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What I notice first and really like is the subtle implication in the shadow of the "i" in Drive is a person taking one step in a running motion.  This brings to mind the old saying - "there is no I in TEAM".  There is however a ME in TEAM, and there is an I in DRIVE.  And when one talks about motivating a team or an individual - it all starts with - what's in it for me.

Introduction

Pink starts with an early experiment with monkeys on problem solving.  Seems the monkeys were much better problem solver's than the scientist thought they should be.  This 1949 experiment is explained as the early understanding of motivation.  At the time there were two main drivers of motivation:  biological & external influences.  Harry F. Harlow defines the third drive in a novel theory:  "The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward" (p 3).  This is Dan Pink's M…

What is your Engagement Model?

What must an Agile Transformation initiative have to be reasonably assured of success?

We "change agents" or Agilist, or Organizational Development peeps, or Trouble Makers, or Agile Coaches have been at this for nearly two decades now... one would think we have some idea of the prerequisites for one of these Transformations to actually occur.  Wonder if eight Agile Coaches in a group could come up with ONE list of necessary and sufficient conditions - an interesting experiment.  Will that list contain an "engagement model"?  I venture to assert that it will not.  When asked very few Agile Coaches, thought leaders, and change agents mention much about employee engagement in their plans, models, and "frameworks".  Stop and ask yourselves ... why?

Now good Organizational Development peeps know this is crucial, so I purposely omitted them from that list to query.

One, central very important aspect of your Agile Transformation will be your Engagement model.  

Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?



Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: http://tinyurl.com/3br9o6n. Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, …

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Martin Fowler's book Refactoring:  Improving the Design of Existing Code has a simple example of a movie rental domain model, which he refactors from a less than ideal object-oriented design to a more robust OO design. Included in this Refactoring_FirstExample.zip Zip file are the Java source code files of the Movie, Rental, and Customer classes. Along with a JUnit CustomerTest class. Using these example source files you too can follow along with the refactoring that Fowler presents in the first few chapters of his book.


Metrics for a Scrum Team (examples)

What metrics do you collect to analyze your scrum team?

We live in a world of data and information.  Some people have a mindset that numbers will diagnose all problems – “just show me the data.”  Therefore many directors and senior managers wish to see some list of metrics that should indicate the productivity and efficiency of the Scrum team.  I personally believe this is something that can be felt, that human intuition is much better in this decision realm than the data that can be collected.  However, one would have to actually spend time and carefully observe the team in action to get this powerful connection to the energy in a high-performing team space.  Few leaders are willing to take this time, they delegate this information synthesis task to managers via the typical report/dashboard request.  Therefore we are asked to collect data, to condense this data into information, all while ignoring the intangible obvious signals (read Honest Signals by Sandy Pentland of MIT).
What if …