I've been asked about doing agile maturity assessments a lot lately, so I have started looking at some options again. I have always shied away from doing agile maturity assessments because there is a significant potential for them to do more harm than good. Many assessment tools make being agile the goal and present some idealized "perfect" vision of agile to rate yourself against.
The problem with that of course, is that there is no "perfect" world of agile and even if there was, it would not particularly important how close you might come to achieving it. Being agile is not the goal. Agility is the means to achieving other goals, and it is progress toward those goals we should measure. As a part of that assessment however, it is useful to understand where we are in our current agile journey and where we should head next. How well we are using agile practices to achieve a specific improvement goal and how will becoming more agile accelerate that improvement?
Coming to the rescue, Mike Cohn and Kenny Rubin offer the Comparative Agility survey asking "Are You Agile Enough?" The survey asks a good series of questions organized in a number of dimensions around agile principles and practices. Rather than assessing the answers toward any "ideal" vision of agile, it allows us to compare the agile journey of our team(s) to that of other teams, or the community of survey respondents.
How is that of value? It allows us to start focused conversations with our teams about how to continue the journey to improve our ability to deliver high quality business solutions in a predictable and reliable manner. Perhaps we have an improvement goal to become more predictable in our delivery. We can look to the survey and assess the responses in the planning and requirements dimensions (perhaps some others as well) to see not only how agile the group thinks it is in these areas, but also how much agreement there is for that assessment. Where there are areas of wide disagreement, we can start conversations with the team to bring them into agreement. Then further conversations can drive action items to become more predictable by becoming more agile in these dimensions.
Agility is about inspecting and adapting. The Comparative Agility survey is a great way to inspect and allow our teams to better understand how and why to adapt.
What's next in your agile journey?