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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Oct 6, 2023

This week, Dan Neumann is joined by Justin Thatil and Mike Dionne to discuss the topic of Agile assessments. Let’s assume it: No one likes to be assessed since it tends to feel deeply uncomfortable. In this episode, these three colleagues discuss the meaning of an assessment, its purpose (that changes according to different environments), and how to conduct assessments following the Agile methodology.


Key Takeaways

  • First: What are you trying to assess?

    • Remember that data can be changed and looked at in many different ways (what could be a problem).

  • The Assessments at the Scrum Master level are meant to evaluate the current state of a Team.

    • Start with a series of questions for a health check: Do you feel you are listened to by a Team? Do you feel you have a voice? Do you feel the Team acknowledges you? Do you feel safe in that environment? If the answer is “Yes” to all four questions on a 1-5 scale, give it a 5. If the answer is affirmative to only a couple of the questions, give it a 3 or 4; if the answer is ‘Yes” to only one, put a 0 or 1.

    • This process must be repeated, and you will realize that people answer with varying honesty over time. Over the journey, you will notice how the Team dynamics start to pick up.

    • As a result of the assessment, the Scrum Master becomes better informed in his or her role.

  • How is the Team performing?

    • Velocity isn’t everything! Other parts of the overall assessment can also give a good perspective regarding a Team’s performance.

    • Scrum enables problems to surface faster so that they can be addressed quicker.

    • Velocity is only suitable for predicting how long it can take to finish a group of backlog items.

  • Start with the Team’s identity and move to the things that improve the Team’s performance to reach the goal you had set. After that, find what you want to improve next. Repeat this process once a quarter.

  • We can control the process, not necessarily the outcome.

    • The whole organization needs to pull in the same direction.

    • The Team needs to be willing to participate in the assessment. If the Team feels the measurement is unnecessary or useless, the assessment won’t be used as a tool for improvement, and this metric won’t have the value that it was expected to have.

  • Assessments also exist for organizations.

    • How long does it take to develop an idea? Does the organization have the ability to improve?


Mentioned in this Episode:

Check this episode: “Jorgen Hesselberg on Data-Driven Continuous Improvement”.


The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower — and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion, by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels


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