Measuring Agility, your own way

Measuring Agility, your own way

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Measuring Agility, your own way

You are new to the organization. Your first mandate will be to access the state of Agility and to ensure that everyone else has the same understanding of what it means to be Agile

  1. Describe the approach you will choose
  2. Tools and techniques you plan to use
  3. How you validate that you are successful (metrics you will use to measure yourself)

It occurred to me that a regular approach for “measuring agility” is probably to go with a questionnaire like Spotifys or one of the various checklists out there, but the obvious risk with these is that they don’t suit your organisations context and a shared understanding doesn’t exist for what is contained within them.

Instead here is a facilitation method to measure your agility by using what is important to you and your organisation, and because its from the ground up, a shared understanding exists from the get-go.

Approach – hold a big room workshop inviting everyone with whom you want to measure your agility.  The workshop will contain 2 distinct parts.

  1. Generate a list of factors, impediments and skills that are vital for working effectively in Scrum. Approx. 60 minutes.
  2. Analyzing the data.

Part 1 as follows:

In the workspace, create room for 4 stations, each containing a whiteboard, postits and stickies, a scrum master, and enough room for 25% of the group to stand.

The stations are as follows:

“In your experience, what are the vital factors for supporting, enabling and encouraging effective scrum in organisations?”

“In your experience, what are the biggest impediments and blocks that prevent teams and organizations from working with scrum effectively?”

“In your experience, what can our communities of chapters do to enable, encourage and promote effective scrum on all levels?”

“In your experience, what are the vital skills that our teams need to work with scrum effectively”?

The aim is to capture between 5 and 15 items at each workstation with the focus being on quality, not quantity.


Ask the group to split into 4 equal subgroups and visit a station to answer question contained on that station. The scrum master at each station can determine how to facilitate, 1-2-4-all is useful here.  15 minutes.

If the group is not the first group on a station, ask them to build upon what came before.

Repeat 3 more times until every group has visited every station. (45 minutes)

Part 2

On the ground, make 3 large infinity symbols with labels on each section as follows

each label means:

Renewal = waiting to start or be revamped, needs a lot of investment but nothing is currently happening.

Poverty Trap = started but cannot continue, normally due to lack of time or resources

Birth = started, effort is high, payback is low.  Needs more effort to determine if there will be payback.

Maturity = may take a little, or a lot of effort but payback is high.

Rigidity trap = trying to move to creative destruction but cannot, old habits die hard?

Creative destruction = stop doing, wind down.  Make room to start something from renewal, move something out of poverty trap or move from birth to mature.


Have the group self-organise into their own developer teams. 2 minutes.

In notebooks, have them draw the ecocycles and duplicate the list of vital factors that enable, encourage or promote scrum in your organisation, and place them where they think they belong. 5 minutes. Alone.

Share the individual ecocycles with their teams and have them try to come to a common understanding where each item should be. 10 minutes.

On a first large Ecocycle on the ground, all teams come to an agreement placing their stickies where they agree. 15 minutes.

Ask the entire group to reflect on the overall pattern of the stickies – is anyone surprised?  Did people think they were quite agile, but most stickies are in the poverty trap?

We repeat this for the lists generated in “In your experience, what can our communities of chapters do to enable, encourage and promote effective scrum on all levels?” 40 minutes & “In your experience, what are the vital skills that our teams need to work with scrum effectively”? 40 minutes.

Once all 3 are finished, ask the group to reflect on the entirety of the placements and reflect together on the patterns they see.

For example, do most teams believe themselves to be in the birth stage yet the organisation believes itself to be completely mature stage in their agile journey?

Now you have a complete image of how mature your organisation is in their scrum journey; simple next steps could be to identify stickies for improvement and see if the team can move the sticky for the next workshop. 

Tools and Techniques

Part 1 Gathering the data, was done using a liberating structure called Shift and Share.

Part 2, Panarchy, again from liberating structures.

Metrics? The ecocycles and panarchies can be used.

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