headshot_Damon_PooleThis is another guest post from Damon Poole, Chief Agilist at the Eliassen Group, in the Do Agile Right mini-series about about agile maturity. Damon’s 22 years of software experience spans from small co-located teams all the way up to global development organizations with hundreds of teams. Damon has spoken at numerous conferences including Atlassian Summit 2013.

Most organizations are purpose-built for traditional development. As a result, they unintentionally hinder Agile at the team level. In order for an organization to realize the full benefits of Agile, it is important to create an Agile ecosystem to support the Agile teams. This is the concept of Enterprise Agility. When first considering Enterprise Agility, make sure to ask yourself, and others in your organization the following questions:

  • Why are you embarking on this journey?
  • Where are you starting from?
  • Who is going on this journey?
  • Where exactly do you want to get to?
  • How fast do you want to get there?

All of these questions are interrelated. The further you want to go from where you are and the faster you want to get there, the more people you will need to have involved and the more consensus you will need on all of the above. A good place to start is to figure out your current level of Agile maturity and to have a good description of why you want to increase it. This will help you better articulate the vision in order to enlist more people to help implement the vision. The latter three items will be covered in future blog posts.

A short, concise, well-articulated Agile vision is vital to communicating your intentions and enlisting help for accomplishing your Agile goals. A good length is 2-5 sentences. For instance, “We are increasing our level of Agile maturity in order to cut the time from business idea to releasable functionality in half. To begin with, we will focus on getting a couple of pilot teams running to learn more about what it takes to be Agile. We are also looking to attract and retain employees that prefer to work for highly Agile companies.”

Once you have your Agile vision, the next step is to measure your current level of Agile maturity. Eliassen recommends using the Enterprise Agility Maturity Matrix.

You may want to measure your current level of maturity on your own initially, you may want to do this as a team activity, or you may want to have an external Agile coach assist you. You’ll have to use your best judgment. In any case, a good place to start is with the Agile indicators related to a team. For each indicator, simply read the content of each cell from left to right and decide which description best describes your current level of maturity. If a description doesn’t make sense, or you are not familiar with some of the terms, then you are probably not yet at that level. The intent of the tool is that you grade hard. If you are not 100% certain that the team is at a particular level, then choose the prior level. Repeat for all of the indicators.

Once you have assessed your current levels of Agile maturity, what’s next? The descriptions in the Maturity Matrix for the next level of maturity for each indicator is a good place to start. To complement the maturity matrix, we’ll be blogging on various approaches for increasing your Agile maturity. Check back soon!

Have a question for Eliassen Group Chief Agilist Damon Poole or a question about Enterprise Agility?  Please send us an e-mail at solutions@eliassen.com or comment below.

What’s next?

This article was originally posted on the Eliassen Agile Blog. We’ll continue to check in with Damon and others for more ideas on improving your agile maturity. You can also check out our website for more tips about doing agile right.

Agile maturity – Starting the enterprise agility journey