The Agile Architect

How Agile Are You? Let's Actually Measure It! (Part 4: Team Dynamics)

Our Agile Architect shares the fourth part of his Agile Assessment, focusing on team dynamics.

For more articles in this series, please use the following links:

Previous articles in this column series have discussed the benefits and limitations of performing an agile assessment, plus delved into the first three areas of assessment: technical craftsmanship, quality advocacy and user experience.

In this section, we will dive deeper into the next area of agile assessment, team dynamics.

About Team Dynamics
An agile team must work together closely to rapidly create high quality software. As such, there is constant pressure on them to improve how they work together, to be honest in their self-appraisals, and to continuously re-evaluate how they work together so they can improve. This runs the gamut of disciplines including the technical (are they helping each other hone their skills?), social (do they enjoy working together?), communication (are they communicating to resolve conflicts?), and organizational (are they self-organizing?).

I have discussed team dynamics in these previous Agile Architect articles:

Below are the assesment specifics for this assessment area. Please see the introduction article for a description of the 0-5 scoring methodology referenced. While not shown below, zero should be used when there is no capability in any particular area.

Area 4: Team Dynamics Scoring

A. Team Structure

  1. Team members are partially dedicated to the project. They still have significant outside responsibilities. Team is at the "storming" phase.
  2. Team members are completely dedicated to the project. Team is in the "forming" or "norming" stages.
  3. Team is operating at the "norming" or "performing" stage. The team still has specializations but is moving to a whole team approach.
  4. Team is taking a whole team approach. They are measuring the team performance and using that feedback to change how they work. Regular retrospectives provide insight into team effectiveness.
  5. The team actively experiments with new ways of working together and is using metrics to measure the effects.

Principles: Empowering the Teams, Communication, Sustainable Pace, Self-Organization

B. Retrospectives

  1. Retrospectives are held on an ad hoc basis.
  2. Retrospectives are held regularly.
  3. The team charter or other mechanism defines when retrospectives occur. Retros are productive and affect how the team works.
  4. The team uses the retrospective to innovate on how they work. Metrics are defined to determine if the changes are having a positive affect.
  5. Team actively experiments with new methodologies and practices and is using metrics to measure the effects.

Principles: Empowering the Teams, Communication, Self-Organization, Continuous Improvement

C. Standups

  1. Standups are held on an ad hoc basis.
  2. Standups are held daily.
  3. The team charter or other mechanism defines when Standups occur. Standups are productive and affect how the team works.
  4. The team uses the standup to effectively organize their work. The team identifies goals and actions to be accomplished that day.
  5. Team actively experiments with new methodologies and practices and is using metrics to measure the effects.

Principles: Harnessing Change, Frequent Delivery, Empowering the Teams, Communication, Measuring Progress, Sustainable Pace, Self-Organization

D. Team Discussions (Called 'Turnarounds' at My Company, Asynchrony)

  1. Team discussions seldom happen and only on an ad hoc basis.
  2. Rules for when team discussions happen are established. The team struggles to conform to the rules.
  3. The team follows the rules for when team discussions happen. The discussions are short and to the point. The team stops the discussion at the appropriate time.
  4. The team measures how the team discussions impact their metrics.
  5. Team actively experiments with new methodologies and practices and is using metrics to measure the effects.

Principles: Frequent Delivery, Empowering the Teams, Communication, Technical Excellence, Self-Organization, Continuous Improvement

E. Information Radiators

  1. The team seldom uses information radiators. When present, they are not used effectively to influence team behavior.
  2. At least one information radiator is in the team room and is used to influence team behavior.
  3. Common information radiators (build status, team velocity) are visible in the team room. Additional radiators, e.g., generated at retrospectives, are used effectively to influence team behavior.
  4. The team is measuring how effectively the information radiators are influencing their work. They experiment with different information radiators and/or different implementations of the same radiator (e.g. physical vs. electronic) and measure which is the most effective.
  5. The team uses a standard body of information radiators. They actively experiment with new information radiators and are using metrics to measure the effects

Principles: Business and Development Collaboration, Empowering the Teams, Communication, Measuring Progress, Technical Excellence, Self-Organization, Continuous Improvement

F. Continuous Improvement

  1. The team has a mild desire to improve, has ad hoc discussions about how this can happen, and rarely takes action to actually improve.
  2. The team has started on a concerted effort to improve. Retrospectives are occur on a regular or irregular basis and generate some ideas for improvement. The team struggles to make these improvements. Some get done. Others don't. The team sometimes uses other practices to foster improvement, e.g. team discussions, training, and lunch and learns.
  3. The team has regular retrospectives that generate ideas for improvement. They take action on these ideas and continue those that are perceived to yield good results.
  4. The team has a cadence of improvement and uses metrics to measure whether the improvement experiments work.
  5. Team actively experiments with new ways to improve and to measure improvement and is using metrics to measure the effects.

Principles: Value Delivery, Frequent Delivery, Empowering the Teams, Communication, Measuring Progress, Sustainable Pace, Technical Excellence, Self-Organization, Continuous Improvement

G. Charter

  1. A formal charter does not exist. However, the team has some rules around how they work together.
  2. The team is in the process of putting together a charter. The team is working to follow what they've already agreed to in the charter.
  3. The team has a living charter that identifies how they work together. Basic agreements are covered. The team continues to update and review the charter.
  4. The team applies applies advanced concepts to the charter and is using metrics to measure their abilities.
  5. Team actively experiments with new methodologies and practices and is using metrics to measure the effects. When the experiments are effective, they are incorporated into the charter.

Principles: Empowering the Teams, Communication, Sustainable Pace, Technical Excellence, Self-Organization, Continuous Improvement

H. Team Self-Empowerment

  1. Individuals do not understand the team goals and objectives. Individuals have a general idea of their limited areas of responsibility. They act within this limited area and seek permission when they need to go beyond these areas.
  2. Individuals are beginning to understand what the team is responsible for. They are beginning to figure out what they need to do to accomplish these goals rather than blindly sticking to specific tasks that have been assigned to them.
  3. The team works together to create a plan to meet their goals. They self-organize. Rather than ask for permission, they inform others of their intended actions.
  4. Team applies advanced concepts and is using metrics to measure their abilities.
  5. Team actively experiments with new methodologies and practices and is using metrics to measure the effects.

Principles: Business and Development Collaboration, Empowering the Teams, Communication, Sustainable Pace, Technical Excellence, Self-Organization, Continuous Improvement

I. Team Area

  1. Individuals work in isolation, e.g. cubicles. Some ad hoc collaboration space is available.
  2. The team is beginning to create a shared space where they work.
  3. The team has a fluid shared space (war room, bullpen, team room…) that can be rearranged to meet changing needs. There is plenty of space for collaboration and information radiators.
  4. Team applies advanced concepts of shared space and is using metrics to measure their effects.
  5. Team actively experiments with new shared space configurations and is using metrics to measure the effects.

Principles: Empowering the Teams, Communication, Sustainable Pace, Technical Excellence, Simplicity, Self-Organization

J. Conflict Resolution

  1. The team resolves conflicts based on personality and persuasiveness of the individuals involved.
  2. The team is attempting to create a conflict resolution process.
  3. The team has a well defined and well known conflict resolution process.
  4. The team uses metrics to determine how well their conflict resolution process works.
  5. The team actively experiments with new methodologies and practices for conflict resolution and is using metrics to measure the effects.

Principles: Business and Development Collaboration, Empowering the Teams, Self-Organization

K. Team's Ability To Embrace Change

  1. The team works as they work. Some tolerance to change. Change is driven by personalities.
  2. Team is not resistant to change, e.g., a change in direction for a feature but they don't yet know how to accept change and deal with it.
  3. Team embraces change. They have a basic understanding of how they can deal with it as a team. Processes are defined that allow acceptance of change.
  4. Team applies advanced concepts and is using metrics to measure their ability to embrace change.
  5. Team actively experiments with new methodologies and practices and is using metrics to measure the effects.

Principles: Value Delivery, Harnessing Change, Business and Development Collaboration, Empowering the Teams, Sustainable Pace, Self-Organization
Product Ownership

Time to move on the next assessment area, product ownership.

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