Avoiding Pitfalls in Your Agile Transformation

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help or identify problems. Your selected agile project management tool can help, and physical artifacts can supplement these. You’ve succeeded if team members know not just the status of their work, but have an idea of the workflow of the team as well. Artifacts for this can include Scrum’s burn down chart, the taskboard or Kanban board, build and test success lights for continuous integration

Don’t dictate Facilitate. There are variety of good assessment surveys for your teams retrospectives or lessons learned, such as the Shodan Adherence Survey [2], the Agile Evaluation Framework, [3], Comparative Agility™ Assessment [4], and the Sidky Agile Measurement Index (SAMI) [5], IBM Rational Self Check for Software Teams [6], and Dean Leffingwell’s Agile Process Metrics [7]. They rate questions numerically to view the team’s deployment level of given practices. This gives people a head start on a solid combination of practices.

But counter intuitively, there is also a niche for placing the work of authoring questions, targeting towards measuring their progress with “being” agile on the team members. This engages another section of their brain. They can bring their unique perspective on observed problems, and key practices into the instrument. Numerical assessments of teams can rotate between a repeated standard list of questions, one of several alternate sets for variety, non numeric retrospective techniques as described by Derby and Larsen in “Agile Retrospectives” [8]. Try also adding a session for an iteration’s retrospective where the team constructs six questions. The act of choosing the top 6 and wording the questions can be a key learning moment. The coach can cue the team by suggesting they consider practices in the following key areas: requirements analysis, workflow management, building quality, and process optimization. Within that framework, people should engage their experience to choose fresh questions. The exercise of considering these can be as valuable as the questions and data themselves.

This approach gives you the best benefits of each technique. You get historical trend data, variety to explore fresh questions on alternate iterations, non numeric methods, expert thought using pre-crafted questions and best of all, team buy in and enthusiasm for the questions they have developed. Learning from the experts is good, but sparking the learner’s analysis of what they would ask is equally powerful.

The coach’s role is to help the team create their questions. The coach can guide the team in considering some key areas, such as what practices they feel are key for quality, or what practices they feel are key for requirements. The coach can also warn the team of known pitfalls in terms of which wordings or practices may not work. But the coach also needs to be open minded. The goal is not to lead the team to a particular answer, but to enable the team’s creation of a question set that works for them in use, and teaches them in the process of its creation.

This example shows questions that were developed not by a consultant, but by a team beginning their agile journey. Having them write the questions serves as a great way for coaches to glean the team understands the core principles. Longer consultant generated surveys are still fine, but these team generated ones give you a view of what’s inside the mind of the team.

Practice

Explanation

Level

Scrum Meetings

Do you hold short daily planning meetings that highlight what each person did yesterday, today, and blockers?

 

Prioritization

Does your team continuously review the business value of your requirements?

 

Velocity

Does your team observe their actual rate of progress, and update their plans?

 

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