A forward to the book on the Agile Journey Index by Bob Galen, CSC
As the agile methods have matured, things that at one point were ill deﬁned or not addressed at all have begun to be covered. I remember in 2007-2008, the role of the Product Owner was hardly covered in the
available agile books or on-line. Yes, there were a few references, but in general nobody was talking about the nuance of actually being a Product Owner in the real world. Teams were left on their own to ﬁgure things out. Fast-forward to today and the Product Owner role is very well referenced and described. Of course it’s still challenging, but there’s a great deal of solid guidance.
But now there are other challenges in the agile space (imagine that). How to conduct emergent architecture and U/X design is something that teams are currently struggling with; as-is the ongoing challenge of successfully scaling agility within larger organizations. Another area that has been a struggle is assessing team performance. There are a wide variety of certiﬁcations that have emerged within the community, but nobody has really tackled the notion of a mechanism or framework for assessing and guiding the evolution of agile teams. Sure, there have been a few early and not very well know attempts, but in general, we’ve been
skirting the development of agile assessments.
Why you might ask?
First, because it’s hard to deﬁne a fair and healthy assessment vehicle—one that provides a balanced amount of feedback for each team to learn and adjust from. Another factor is that I believe we’re afraid to do it. Agility can be a fragile thing and achieving team self-direction needs care and feeding to eﬀectively mature. Assessment data can help a team improve, but it might also drive poor behaviors. Examples would include internal competition, or the undermining of trust which can drive behaviors back to pre-agile patterns.Beyond that though, I think we’re afraid to put assessment in the hands of organizational management. Worrying that they will somehow use the data against the team or drive measurement dysfunction, or, (gasp!), use it for performance evaluations.
I think for all of these reasons and more, we’ve avoided implementing, recommending, and actually using assessment models and guidance. Well, ﬁnally someone has the courage and the wherewithal to introduce a model to the agile community that has some real world usage behind it. In addition, the courage to put it “out there” with the requisite guidance, examples and trust that the agile community will apply it to “DO GOOD”.
I’ve known AgileBill Krebs for a number of years. Our joke is that we live close to each other in North Carolina,literally within 1 mile, but we only see each other at local and national agile events. Bill is an active agile coach at AllScripts and has been using these assessment tools with his own teams for several years. He also has deep agile experience at IBM, where he had also worked since 2002 on Agile
I mention that because so many folks recommend models that they haven’t actually tried. That are simply theoretical and not hardened in the real world. That is not Bill’s style. He is relentless in applying his experience, ﬁne-tuning it within his teams, and then having the courage to share it in the community. And he
shares it to do good; ultimately trying to help us coach our agile teams to improved performance that achieves the wonderful performance, quality, and organizational improvement goals of agility.
So I heartily encourage you to read the Agile Journey Index and then apply these assessment principles and recommendations within your teams. Blindly and hoping for a silver bullet result? I surely hope not!
Instead with wisdom, care, and a situational mindset all focused towards helping yourself, your teams, and your organization…continuously improve along your Agile Journey.
Stay agile my friends…
Bob Galen, CSC.