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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.

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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.


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…

Software Development terms applied to Home Construction

Let's Invert the typically wrong headed view of Software Development project management as a construction project.  We can map it the other way just to see if it works... to have some fun, to explore the meaning of phrases we toss around quite frequently.

Normally Project Management terms come from a construction domain.  We are going to apply the lexicon of modern software to the construction of a home.  We will follow the construction project and meet some of the people doing the work.

This is a very small (8 homes from $600,000 skyward) program in my 30-40 year old neighborhood.

About 6 months ago I saw the programs landing page go up.  It gives casual observers and some of the stakeholders a general idea of the intent of the program.  And most importantly who to contact for additional information if you happen to be interested in their products.

The Refuge program has 8 product projects and has them running independently.  Yet much of their DevOps infrastructure has already b…

Where is Shakespeare When We Need Him?

We are desperately searching for a term for people that connotes the best of human kind.  The creative, sensing, combinatorial synergistic, empathic solutioning persons that have yet to been labeled with a role name that works.

Some of the old terms:
Staff, Workforce, Human Resource, My Team, Army, Company

Shakespeare created 1700 words in his time.  He mutated verbs to nouns, and vice-a-versa, transformed verbs into adjectives, and formed words from whole cloth never before heard.  This skill is rare, but there is a poet that can create the term we need in the twenty-first century.

What should this term define?

21st Century Human Resource; the generalizing specialist.

Yes, but what more?  What less?

Suggest your poetry in the comments, let us see if we cannot do 1/1700 as well as The Bard.

By-the-way; who create the phrase "coin a word"?

Innovation in the Automobile Industry

In the 1900s the automobile industry was the most important and innovation industry in the USA.  But one could question if this was good for our society in the long run.  And one could question if they actually innovated.

In the early 1900s there were few automobiles, very little infrastructure created to support the industry.  For example the road system was still designed for horse drawn wagons and the wagon wheel (remember a steal rim and wooden compression spoke wheel).  The future US Highways, or the 1950s Interstate Highway System at the cost of $425 billion were decades and many innovations away. There was no gas service station, there were however horse stables, farriers, and blacksmiths in each town along the roads.  There was no real "road map", there was no road naming system, like was created in 1926 - the United States Numbered Highway System.

The industry employees millions of people, and was a large factor in the economy of the USA.  It created or was created b…

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