Three agile assessments to resolve organizational issues

Enterprises can save time and money while improving agility through organizational assessments.

From learning to adoption to practice, agile journeys are often not smooth. As organizational structure becomes more intricate and layered, it becomes exponentially more complex to resolve issues at the organizational level.

Here’s a look at the limitations of agile frameworks to overcome organization impediments, and how organizational assessments can be the solution to avoiding potholes along your agile journey.

Limitations of agile frameworks

Agile coaches can reinforce agile values and key practices while working at both the team and organizational levels. However, coaches are handcuffed as most agile frameworks, like Scrum, are aimed at the team level and do not uncover and resolve organizational impediments.

For example:

  • Daily standups help identify team impediments so that they can be quickly removed
  • Retrospectives are vital for improving team performance and product quality
  • Sprint reviews ensure the team is moving the product in the right direction

Without organizational oversight, attention to impediments is prioritized based on the loudest teams or the most recent complaints.

Scaled agile frameworks have some mechanisms to help identify and remove organizational impediments. But these frameworks are primarily for multiple teams working on a single large product. These mechanisms don’t help organizations that have multiple teams working on multiple products or in different domains.

Agile coaches can try to identify organizational impediments by observing and interviewing multiple teams for several sprints looking for anti-patterns that teams cannot resolve on their own. But this can take months depending on the size of the organization.

Benefits of organizational assessments

An assessment is a better way for coaches to quickly gather the information needed to identify common anti-patterns. By assessing each team, analyzing the findings and looking for opportunities to improve multiple teams simultaneously, an organization can save time and money while improving agility and outcomes.

There are three types of assessments that can be used to determine an organization’s agility.

  1. Checklist assessments compare an organization’s basic practices against a best practice rubric. For each item not checked, the organization should start doing that activity.
  2. Framework assessments give direction by providing progressions along multiple paths. For example, a less agile organization might still be using more traditional-based tools, then progress into looking at agile tools, to acquiring tools, to using tools, to configuring and then optimizing the tools for the organization.
  3. Likert Scale-based multi-team survey, which we use at Surge – a Catalyte company. Here, multiple team results are merged together to identify practices that all or most teams are not doing, indicating possible organizational-level barriers via benchmarking.

Assessments for every level of agile

Organizations early in their agile journey: Assessments can be like test-driven development. The initial assessment is expected to fail but improvements are expected in subsequent assessments.

Mid-journey organizations: Assessments provide the initial snapshot of the strengths and opportunities that a coach can use to advise teams and organizations.

Truly agile organizations: Assessments provide better visibility of the agile road and can quickly find and fix potholes and help its teams accelerate their journey to agility.

 

You can find more discussion about how to improve agility with organization assessments in this Sourcing for Innovation podcast episode.

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