How agile are we? Model for assessing team maturity

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Part of the consulting work I do with organizations and teams around the world includes assessing the "maturity" level of an evolving agile team or organization. Initiating a conversation and analysis of the state of that team or organization is no easy task. For that reason, there are assessment tools that help determine how agile your team is.

However, rather than diagnosing on a predefined and circumscribed recipe, what attracts me to these types of assessment tools, and the reason I created TEMPO, is the structure they offer to initiate discussion. For me, diagnostic tools are a starting point towards deeper reflection and it is the responsibility of the coach or consultant to always keep an open mind beyond the starting point.

In this article I talk about TEMPOa tool I've designed to assess the maturity of your agile team and its environment.

TEMPO: Agile Team Maturity Assessment Tool

TEMPO is the result of several years of work. This tool consolidates what I consider to be the most common and key challenges of any transformation process. It is a simple tool to assess the current situation of an agile team - no matter how big it is.

Why the term TEMPO?

Before we get into it, I'd like to share with you why it's called TEMPO. So here's a short, condensed version of what happened.

When starting a consultative coaching process for a more or less large team - whether agile or interested in becoming one - it's wise to do a diagnostic. Think a bit like, try to find out what is happening and why.

So there are several tools - surveys and scorecards - that have been developed for that purpose. We - in my work team - have come to consolidate 5 aspects to review. However, those aspects had names that were difficult to retain. When things are "complicated" or with too many terms the change management processes become more complex.

This is how, during an ideation session for a new account, we sat down to talk about the problems and challenges that we, as consultants, found in organizations that want to start or validate their process of evolution to an agile team.

The main conclusion, we need to make the diagnosis and the pillars on which we will work easy to understand. Diagnosis is key, but it must then be linked to working with people.

Unbiased Agile Team Assessment Model

For those who know music - or play an instrument - the concept of TEMPO is just a quality of a harmony or song. It is not good or bad. Something with less TEMPO - slower - is no less good than something with more TEMPO. There is no positive or negative connotation in the imagination.

Thus TEMPO was born: the union of the terms associated with each of the aspects to be evaluated and the search for a clear analogy to a quality that every team has and that does not make it better or worse than another.

Agnostic Assessment Model for Agile Teams

TEMPO seeks to validate the impact of some aspects that promote or limit agility in a team or organization. However, it avoids being limited to a specific method or model. That is to say, if a team wants to adopt the Scrumor if a team wishes to apply Scrumban o XP (o Agile Process), you can use TEMPO.

Aspects of the agile team maturity assessment model: TEMPO

TEMPO includes the following aspectos:

  • Team - Equipment
  • Environment - Environment
  • Mechanics - Mechanics
  • Product Vision / Product
  • Organizational Agility / Organization

The maturity model TEMPO encompasses many of the challenges I have come across in the organizations I have been fortunate enough to work with. Nonetheless, it is neither healthy nor responsible to assume that TEMPO is an omnipresent model. with each and every one of the challenges that we as facilitators and change agents must face. TEMPO will help you to contextualize the discussion and debate on a starting point in an agile evolution.

TEMPO is similar to other models such as Agility Health Radar or Scaled Agile's Business Agility Self-Assessment. And although the structure is a bit more complex than what I present here, my intention is to share the general structure that leverages the beginning of the reflections and decisions about an agile evolutionary process.

Team Aspect: Agile Team Maturity Assessment

All aspects of TEMPO may be equal in importance, but definitely no team means no results.

TEMPO is a collection of questions and evaluations about the current status of each aspect. In this case, the state of the team (TEAM).

I present you the first component and below, the calculator of the "component" or "aspect" of TEAM (team). Answer each of the questions below on a scale of 0 to 5. You can use it freely, with your teammates and your organization.


0
How much have you adopted an agile mindset in your team?
  1. We do "nothing" agile
  2. Some members of the team understand the dynamics and we have implemented a few changes
  3. We have the mechanics, we do activities - Scrum for example. We all know the new "processes".
  4. Beyond the activities, we can identify the benefits and understand the value of this "mindset".
  5. We are agile
  6. We are not finished, we are actively looking for new and better ways to do our work.
0
How would you rate the morale of the team?
  1. Negative behaviors are regularly evident. For example: blaming, finger pointing, denial of problems, anger, shouting, passive aggression or scapegoating. There is active resistance to change. There is attrition or people frequently refer to leaving the team or how much they dislike their job or work environment.
  2. Although we don't have a team in crisis - like the previous state - we don't feel any progress towards a better scenario.
  3. There are still elements of the first state, but there is steady progress away from those behaviors. Problems are being actively addressed. There is a general sense that morale is improving.
  4. Most team members get along well and are happy at work.
  5. The team is generally happy, engaged, productive and really enjoys working together.
  6. Most team members feel that this is one of the best teams they have ever worked on. They are excited to come to work and look forward to the next day at the end of the day.
0
What is your opinion about the way the team interacts and works?
  1. No or non-existent collaboration
  2. Sporadic collaboration or "the exception to the rule".
  3. Collaboration is partial. There are "subgroups". Divisions are still perceived
  4. The team is one. Greater collaboration and teamwork is evident
  5. The team actively collaborates - at least the majority of its members
  6. There is collaboration between individuals. There is confidence in one's own and others' abilities. It is an integrated and synergistic team. We work as a block to achieve and help others to achieve the goals.
0
Based on Tuckman's model, where would you place your team?
  1. We are still not sure who is part of the team
  2. Training / Forming: We are a new team, we have a new member or someone has just left the team.
  3. Tormenta / StormingThe individuals are still figuring out how to work as a team. There are more conflicts than I would expect
  4. Normative / NormingThe team has figured out how to work. Their progress towards "high performance" is evident. "high performance".
  5. High Performance / Performing (1): The equipment achieves a great performance. However, it is not constant and fluctuates every two to three weeks.
  6. Consolidated high performance / Performing (2): I can assure you that the team has maintained its consistently high performance for several months now.
0
How sustainable or "maintainable" is the pace of your team's work?
  1. People are tired, irritable, exhausted, working overtime on a regular basis. The current situation is considered business as usual
  2. I recognize that the current pace is not sustainable.
  3. Although the current pace is not sustainable and we have taken measures and actions to improve the situation
  4. The consensus is that the team is working at a pace close to sustainability indefinitely, though the workload remains inconsistent with bursts of heavy workloads
  5. The team has the support of the organization to work at a sustainable pace. The consensus is that the team is working consistently with the sustainable pace elements in their team agreement on 80% of the time.
  6. The organisation and the team actively take steps to support work at a sustainable pace
0
How clear and defined are the teamwork agreements?
  1. Nonexistent. There is no commitment between the team
  2. Some de facto rules exist. However, they are not recognized by all members or in all circumstances.
  3. There are some de facto rules - as in the previous level. However, these rules are recognised, although they have not been formally written down or agreed by the team.
  4. There is a documented team working agreement. It has been discussed and improved by the team on at least one occasion. The agreement is visible and clear to all
  5. The agreement is respected and includes elements such as process, collaboration, respect and time management.
  6. Agreement exists - as in the previous point - and also follows naturally. Exceptions are quickly identified and addressed. There are no discussions about interpretations or lack of knowledge.
Score 

How to interpret the results of the agile team maturity tool?

Using a tool without proper context or knowledge can be misleading, so before you try to read this like a horoscope reader, take a second look at each of the questions. Each answer offers valuable information to facilitate a deeper discussion.

What does the TEMPO score mean?

I chose the word TEMPO because it is related to harmony. Tempo, in music, refers to the speed with which a piece of music should be performed (or played). There is no negative connotation, only, teams that are more agile - and are perceived faster - and others that are less agile - and are perceived slower. But there are no good and bad teams.

Here are some tips on TEMPO scoring:

  • Score 0 and 40 - Your team can't run if it hasn't started walking yet. Take time with your team to define roles and responsibilities, work with them to consolidate a team identity and culture. Use tools such as the Team Charter or the Team Canvas. You should consider some formal training or accompaniment.
  • Score 41 to 60 - your team has taken the first steps. Review all answers to the questionnaire, your own and those of your teammates. Validate with the team what they should work on.
  • Point 61 to 80 - Your team is a potential agile team. Identify areas for improvement. Ask open questions and let the team be the ones to propose.
  • Score from 81 to 90 - Well, what can I say, you have a great team. Maybe some questions deserve a deeper discussion.
  • Score above 90 - ¡Write me! Let me have a meeting with you and your team. I would like to know what you are doing, what works for you and how you did it.

There are a large number of tools for analyzing the state of maturity of an agile team. And in truth, they all look alike. Use this tool with your team and start a deep conversation about the state of your team.

Aspect Environment: Context within the organisation

Not everything in a transformation process comes from the agile team - cell or squad as they sometimes call it. So, in the Environment Within TEMPO, you must consider whether the team structure and the constraints imposed by the environment accelerate or slow down the agile evolution process. Some components of the ENVIROMENT contemplate:

1. Agile team size

There is a simple difference between "working group"and "team". This difference is the number of people. The more people, the more difficult - or impossible - it is to have a "team". In Scrum, for example, the recommendation has always been something between 3 and 9 people.[1]The truth, Scrum, and each of the authors has given an answer to the team size question, but let's say the idea is not to stray too far from the magic number 7..

2. Dedication of team members

According to Scrum, the dedication of agile team members should be total - 100% or more XD. However, not all models and not all organizations can structure their teams that way. So here's another element to consider.

Of course, the Environment within TEMPO has more elements to consider and its own valuation or measurement instrument.

Mechanical Aspect: Agile Team Operation

In terms of the mechanics of an agile team (mechanics), you should assess adherence to agile "processes" and "practices". The goal is to assess "behavior" and "good manners" - so to speak. How often do they perform self-assessment or continuous improvement cycles - e.g., the well-known retrospectives? How well and how often do they perform requirements refinement? How is the process of effort estimation and work planning?

Product Vision Aspect: What result do we want to achieve?

Agility is not doing Scrum. A big part of the success of a good agile team or large-scale agile teams is their ability to "ideate" "incremental" products and services. It is not trivial, and surely many of us have worked in teams where iterations or Sprints do not end in a validation of hypotheses but more in a "progress tracking".

It is wise to evaluate how "agile" the product or system under development has been conceived and how much the product conception will benefit from an agile mindset and organization.

Aspect Organizational Agility: Scale

This last aspect closes the TEMPO model. And of course, it seeks to assess how agile the organization is. Here you contemplate aspects such as architecture, compliance, DevOps and other tools that go beyond producing the product or result.

TEMPO Model

TEMPO Model - Maturity of Agile Teams and Organizations
TEMPO - Maturity Assessment Tool for Agile Teams and Organizations

Interested in TEMPO and Assessing Agile Team Maturity?

TEMPO is a complete tool, and we use it in the team at Sperta Consulting when we work on the diagnosis of teams and organizations. So do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in the model for your organization.

Considerations for Agile Team Maturity Assessment Tools

TEMPO supports the assessment of maturity status and self-perception of culture and process. However, I lay out the basis of TEAM in TEMPO for you to apply with your team. Don't try to ask everyone about everything. It will help you focus the team to discuss the important things, to talk about what needs time, analysis and improvement and, of course, to acknowledge and celebrate what has gone well and is working.

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If you have questions that have helped you to deepen the analysis and definition of a starting point (or arrival point) in a transformation process, I invite you to share.

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Author's comments and notes[+]

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Alberto Dominguez
Leading teams from theory to real and sustainable delivery of innovative IT products and services.
Articles: 33

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