Our Agile scan is zero. Great!

At some point in every company that is doing some sort of change towards Lean or Agile, the big question is asked. “Are we agile or Lean enough?”. So coaches start being busy with all sorts of scans to measure the level and even maturity of the teams and surrounding business. There are many types of scan’s and the latest count that I could make is that there are about sixty or more. They all ask about the same questions in different order and all of them have various outcomes. It is impossible to figure out which one is the best and when you get to a certain measurement it is impossible to accurately do something with the outcome.

Let me give you a few examples of the questions you will find in these scans:

The team knows who the product owner is.

All team members, including testers, are included in the sprint retrospective meeting.

Automated unit testing is implemented where appropriate

Is the team focused on working on the most important things?

Are changes in approaches by the team(s) leading to changes in the overall organization?

Is the team…… ah forget it. I can assure you that every survey has more or less questions like this. All about teams working together and in a business environment. And you can get all sort of numbers and nice graphics out of them. From spiderwebs to growing charts.

The question is what is the goal? I agree that the questions in themselves may lead to some sort of self awareness, and that is a good thing. “Hey guys! We don’t have a visual sprint board.Let’s build one” but appart from that everything else is just numbers on a scale from 1 to whatever.

I find that in almost every case the measurements are used to inform management that there is movement. “Great, look we are on a five on the agile scale. We are doing great.” But because there is no baseline for what is good or bad, it is meaningless. We all know that you cannot compare one team with another. I have had teams who sucked at doing scrum but delivered perfect and great software. And I have seen teams who do perfect scrum but deliver shit. And when it is impossible and useless to compare teams. What if you want to do the same with business units or various parts of the company. One unit can do perfect while the other one is doing a lousy job. Even when the number say that they are equal.
scanSo is there a good measurement to use when you want to read the success of teams or even the company. I think there is only one. The measurement you can do is time how long a agility report is stuck to a wall. You know what I mean. The nice graphs somewhere on your visual wall. Or how long it takes before someone is asking about that certain number in a powerpoint and why it is up or down. “Yes we measure velocity, bugs, happiness, agile maturity or whatever but it is just so we do them” Well stop doing them. I think that is your ultimate goal in measuring is not doing it at all. There is nothing to gain out of growing numbers. The questions are great to get people to think and please keep asking questions. But stop turning the answers into numbers.

I’m a Certified Enterprise Coach. There are about ninety in the world. That must mean that it is very hard to become one so one a scale from zero to  maturity that must make us the top of the line. I think that on the agile coach scale I’m a five. Cool and there is no higher level than this. Wait.. what? Forget it. I learn every day and there is always room to grow. The same goes for teams and companies Stop labeling and measuring and focus on what is important. Good communication, great software and collaboration and keep on changing and asking questions.

Your ultimate scan is when there is no more need for scans. Within our company the number of maturity scans in brought back to zero and we work hard to keep it that way.