We at Wunderkraut started discussing what kind of educational efforts and support we could provide to help our teams to take the next step in their agile ways of working. Obviously we needed to get a better understanding on where the teams stand today, I then starting poking around and team self-assessment seemed like a good method. That sort of exercise also would give our teams some thoughts on where they are and how they can proceed from there, so we thought it was a good starting point facilitating team self-assessment sessions with all our teams.
I found two very interesting articles on self assessment from Henrik Kniberg and Elisabeth Hendrickson. Kniberg’s exercise concentrates around Scrum while Henrickson’s more try to help you assess your current status with Agile ways of thinking. Both approaches are interesting and inspiring but not exactly what I was looking for as our teams work different ways where Scrum (and in one case Kanban) has been the base for all teams but from there they built on and adopted them into their own way of working. I therefore wanted to find something more general, where we would discuss more the reason why Scrum has daily meetings rather than to discuss if the team has dailies and if they are valuable or needs improvement.
Assessment questions or statements
As I failed in my googling around for someone who already had done this I ended up writing down questions by myself where I was inspired by Kniberg’s and Hendrickson’s articles. It ended up in the following questions:
You as a team is delivering what the client needs most
Process is continuously improving and someone is responsible for that happening
When you as a team are done with something the PO or client usually accepts it
You as a team organize within the iteration to achieve the goals of the iteration
Impediments are discussed daily and an initiative is taken to resolve it
You as a team regularly get feedback from the client on your work
You as a team are well prepared for planning sessions and have knowledge about the top items in the backlog
Where I try finding generic questions that could be applied to any sort of team, but some of the questions are somewhat specific to our ways of working where we are very much Scrum inspired. If you want to use them yourself you might need to do some adjustments.
How I facilitated the assessment session
To initiate discussions we gathered the whole team into a room and explained the background of Wunderkraut wanting to help them evolve as a team and need input from them in order to help out.
I then explained that I would show them an number of statements where I want them to discuss and eventually grade their own team in how they match the statement. The team then discussed that topic and I facilitated the discussion, if necessary asking complementary questions like “Do you know what the client needs” or “Who is your client”.
I earlier had drawn a line on the whiteboard and printed 1 to the left and 10 to the right on it, and wrote post-its with shortenings of the statements such as “Client needs”, “Continues improvements”. After the team finished their discussions I placed the respective post-it on the line to visualize their decision, this was important while taking new notes to see where they are compared to other statements.
This session took about 30 minutes, but while having it I realize this could be used for having deeper discussions in each of the topics resulting in actions for improvements. But to have that we would need a longer session, probably 1.5 – 2 hours depending on the team size.
Score or not
You could argue score does not provide any value to the workshop, I would say the score itself does not provide much value. But it helps the team come to a conclusion and get a visual common understanding on where their discussions landed.
Not comparing scores
Do not compare teams to each other with their scores! It is like Albert Einstein’s quote “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”, in other words the more the team learns it’s more likely they would set a lower score. So please only see this as a material to initiate interesting discussions around important Agile topics and raise awareness of them.