The experiment to bring Scrum Inc and Jeff Sutherland to Budapest to help us restart momentum on our Agile Transformation at LogMeIn is looking more successful every day.  We now have people from Leadership and the Teams eager to know more about Scrum and Agile (again) and they’re asking lots of questions.  So we’ll check our first box off the list (generating buzz).

Now we’re on to new problems.  Today I wanted to talk you through how we’re handling a classic change transformation challenge:  figuring out how assess and compare organizations and teams.  So I’ve enlisted the help of other members of our Agile Guild to help find and/or build a good assessment tool.  The problem? We’re struggling with where to even start.

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Journey to The Wizard of Oz

Figuring out how to measure the progress of change movements isn’t a problem unique to Agile.  Companies and Consultancies have long been trying to figure out how to compare teams, organizations, and products in their journeys toward improving their ability to innovate and bringing those innovations to market (which from my experience is why most leaders start talking about an Agile Transformation in the first place).  Not to mention there are countless books on the topic (using this time to plug one of my favorites – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni).

The concept of assessments is also not new to Agile.   Since the Agile Manifesto was put out 15+ years ago everyone has been trying to figure out “how agile” they are.  There is everything from the “ad hoc” assessments created by <Name Your Agile Consultancy of Choice> to the famed and broadly (mis-) used “Nokia Networks Test” from 10 years ago.  What many of us found during our research is that no one seems to agree 100% on even the basics of what you should be measuring.  And to make it worse, there are some who feel there is no way to actually measure an “Ideal Organization/Team”.  I personally don’t subscribe to these schools of thought, but they’re out there.

During my research on the topic, a co-worker and friend recommended a recording of a fantastic presentation from AgileAdria 2015 by Lean practitioner Stephen Parry. (Thank you David Bistrai!)  The overall talk wasn’t particularly relevant to the topic of assessments (although it is definitely worth watching), but one of the slides had a statement on it and it made me realize we were staring in the wrong place.

“Purpose is your passion, Vision is the world you wish to create, Strategy is how you get there, Tactics ensure you survive the journey” – Stephan Parry

Why is this relevant?  I realized we don’t have our purpose as Agile Practioners at LogMeIn clearly defined and agreed upon!  If we don’t know the journey we’re trying to travel, how can we assess it?  No wonder we were having problems figuring out a good test.

So to help us sort that out, I’ve created a set of questions from Parry’s statament.  He’s my “first crack” at the questions:

  1. What Does a Good Agile Implementation (specifically at LogMeIn) Look Like? (Vision)
  2. What Are the Key Areas of An Organization or Team that if examined and measured will help us reach that “Ideal Implementation”? (Mission)
  3. What types of Questions (and Answers) will give us the best data in each of those Key Areas? (Strategy)

After a discussion earlier today, the Agile Guild agreed it was necessary, and agreed this will be our focus for the next month as it will help us in many areas – not just assessments.  I also want to point of that this article was raised by a colleague during that meeting.  It comes from Agile legend Mike Cohn and goes into the assessment topic at length and provides a solid framework.  Once we’ve finished defining the Vision, Mission, and Strategy statements for Agile at LogMeIn, we felt this would be a great “next step”.

That’s all for today.  More on this in the coming weeks!

Assessments and Visions and Missions Oh My!

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