Luis Goncalves

Agile Retrospectives Assessment Survey A Great Exercise

by Luís Gonçalves
agile retrospectives assessment

AGILE RETROSPECTIVES ASSESSMENT SURVEY

Hi guys, in this post I will explain how can you use Team Assessment Survey as a tool for a retrospective. On my current job I was exposed to the SAFe framework by Dean Leffingwell, this framework provide a team assessment survey, the exercise that I will teach here is an adaptation of Dean’s assessment. The original assessment can be found here.

This exercise can be found in the book: “Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives”, a book written by me and Ben Linders with the foreword from Esther Derby. The book can be downloaded by free in LeanPub.com or InfoQ.com, please download it and spread it within your colleagues.

If you are interested in getting some extra Agile Retrospectives exercises, I created a blog post with dozens of Agile Retrospectives Ideas, check them and see if you find something interesting.

What you can expect to get out of this technique

The purpose of this exercise is to analyze how teams are performing in different areas and identify possible improvements to be taken in the near future (next sprint?). The assessment has four main areas:

  • Product Ownership Health – How the product owner is performing
  • Sprint Health – How activities within the sprint are being managed
  • Team Health – How healthy is the team spirit within the team
  • Technical Health – How well the team has implemented technical best practices

Each of the areas has different questions that can be rated from zero to five, allowing the team to visualize what are the areas that need more attention from the team.

This is a great exercise to reveal the overall agile health of a team.

When you would use this technique

I believe this technique is quite simple and does not require any special occasion. Although, it might be suitable for situations when a team wants to understand better how well they are implementing Agile. This exercise will not solve specific problems that occured during the sprint, but might reveal some of the causes why those problems happened. For example if the team is finding a lot of bugs during development it might be that their Unit Testing, or automation practices is not being well implemented.

How to do it

To Perform this exercise you just need an excel sheet. Like I said before that excel well have four main areas (Product Ownership Health, Sprint Health, Team Health and Technical Health). For each different areas you create several questions that you think are appropriate for your team. You can always refer the questions from SAFe Team Scrum XP assessment that you can find here. Below I list two questions as an example for each different areas.

Product Ownership Health:

  • Product Owner facilitates user story development, prioritization and negotiation
  • Product Owner collaborates proactively with Product Management and other stakeholders

Sprint Health:

  • Team plans the sprint collaboratively, effectively and efficiently
  • Team always has clear sprint goals, in support of PSI (do readers know what PSI is?) objectives, and commits to meeting them

Team Health:

  • Team members are self-organized, respect each other, help each other complete sprint goals, manage inter-dependencies and stay in-sync with each other
  • Stories are iterated through the sprint with multiple define-build-test cycles (e.g. the sprint is not a waterfalled)

Technical Health:

  • Automated acceptance tests and unit tests are part of story DoD
  • Refactoring is always underway

All these questions can be rated from zero to five, zero means “Never”, five means “Always”.

agile retrospectives assessment During the retrospective the team just need to fill the excel file as a team and evaluate themselves to see where they stand. If you want, you can create a nice graphic to easily see the result of the assessment. An example can be seen on the picture on the right side.

Visualizing the graphic will give a team a good understanding where they stand, with the graphic in front of them they should decide which area they want to improve, again chose only one area at the time and one topic within the area.

Like many other exercises that I explained this exercise does not require to have a collocated team (true, but they would need some kind of scoring and voting mechanism). This exercise can be run in a virtual setup where the team is spread all over the world.

What do you think about this exercise? Do you think it could be useful for you? Please leave me your ideas.

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Luís Gonçalves

About Luís Gonçalves

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LuisGonçalves1979

Luis Gonçalves is an Entrepreneur, Author & International Keynote Speaker. He works with Senior Executives to implement his ‘Organisational Mastery’ system so they can greatly increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their organisations; enabling them to become recognised and highly rewarded Leaders.

Comments

Share your point of view

  1. Good one Luis, I deployed it in one team few weeks ago. I will deploy it in more teams during the next weeks. Very useful and very simple to do. I personally combine this one with PO and stakeholders score cards ( http://wp.me/p3ln09-4o ). Score cards allow me to capture the perception and feedback of PO and stakeholders about how the team is working. I am preparing one new post with the result of those score card (I have around 8 months of info now with one team), you will see it soon in my linkedin/twiter.
    Omar

  2. I use something similar, but not as a retrospective exercise. I typically will use that in the beginning of a coaching engagement so I can understand where the team is and where they want to be (they may not want to be a Ri team (or 5) across the board). So, it is good to make sure you understand what their goals are, and how they are going to reach them. I would recommend you reassess at least quarterly.

    Joe

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