How Agile Are You? (Take This 42 Point Test)

This content is syndicated from by Kelly Waters. To view the original post in full, click here.

Recently I saw a brief set of questions from Nokia to assess whether or not a team is 'agile'.

And by 'agile', I think they meant to what extent the team was following agile practices Scrum and XP (eXtreme Programming), not whether or not they could touch their toes :)

I'm not sure if it was deliberately brief to emphasise the things that are the real *essence* of agile, but we've developed the questions into a more comprehensive set of statements. A set of statements that make a fuller assessment of someone's status with agile principles and methods.

Here they are...

  1. The team is empowered to make decisions.

  2. The team is self-organising and does not rely on management to set and meet its goals.

  3. The team commits and takes responsibility for delivery and is prepared to help with any task that helps the team to achieve its goal.

  4. The team knows who the product owner is.

  5. Each sprint/iteration has a clear goal.

  6. All team members, including testers, are included in requirements workshops.

  7. Requirements documentation is barely sufficient and the team collaborates to clarify details as features are ready for development.

  8. Test cases are written up-front with the requirements/user story.

  9. There is a product backlog/feature list prioritised by business value.

  10. The product backlog has estimates created by the team.

  11. The team knows what their velocity is.

  12. Velocity is used to gauge how many user stories should be included in each sprint/iteration.

  13. Sprints/iterations are timeboxed to four weeks or less.

  14. Sprint budget is calculated to determine how many product backlog items/features can be included in the sprint/iteration.

  15. The sprint/iteration ends on the agreed end date.

  16. All tasks on the sprint backlog are broken down to a size that is less than one day.

  17. Requirements are expressed as user stories and written on a card.

  18. The team estimates using points which indicate the relative size of each feature on the product backlog/feature list.

  19. The team generates burndown charts to track progress daily.

  20. Software is tested and working at the end of each sprint/iteration.

  21. The team is not disrupted during the sprint/iteration.

  22. Changes are integrated throughout the sprint/iteration.

  23. Automated unit testing is implemented where appropriate.

  24. There is an automated build and regression test.

  25. Stretch tasks are identified for inclusion in the sprint/iteration if it goes better than expected.

  26. The Product Owner is actively involved throughout each sprint.

  27. All code changes are reversible and it is possible to make a release at any time.

  28. Testing is integrated throughout the lifecycle and starts on delivery of the first feature.

  29. Impediments that hold up progress are raised, recorded on the whiteboard and resolved in a timely fashion.

  30. When someone says 'done', they mean DONE! (ie shippable).

  31. The team uses the whiteboard to provide clear visibility of progress and issues on a daily basis.

  32. The sprint/iteration goal(s) is clearly visible on the board.

  33. All user stories and tasks are displayed on the whiteboard for the duration of the sprint/iteration.

  34. Daily scrums happen at the same time every day – even if the scrum master isn’t present.

  35. The daily scrum is resticted to answering the standard 3 scrum questions and lasts no more than 15 minutes.

  36. There is a product demonstration/sprint review meeting at the end of each sprint/iteration.

  37. All team members, including testers and Product Owner, are included in the sprint/iteration review.

  38. The sprint/iteration review is attended by executive stakeholders.

  39. There is a sprint retrospective at the end of each sprint/iteration.

  40. Key metrics are reviewed and captured during each sprint retrospective.

  41. All team members, including testers, are included in the sprint retrospective meeting.

  42. Actions from the sprint retrospective have a positive impact on the next sprint/iteration.

Our approach to these statements is this:

  • Ask every team member of an agile team (including the product owner, tester, manager, everyone) to review the statements honestly.

  • Ask them only to mark a score with a 1 if - and only if - they believe they are consistent and it could be audited. In other words, if I was to turn up at any time and ask for evidence, are you confident you could provide it. Otherwise score 0.

  • Add up the 1's for each team member. Then average the score for the team.

To what extent a team is really effective at all these points is another matter, of course.

But if a team has really got agile principles and practices consistently nailed, and according to every team member...

They score 42 of course! :)

How agile are you?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × four =

There are 101 ways to do anything.
To find the best way, sometimes you need expert help

What People Say

“Kelly was engaged as a Program Director on a complex business and technology transformation program for Suncorp Commercial Insurance. Kelly drew on his key capabilities and depth of experience to bring together disparate parties in a harmonised way, ensuring the initiate and concept phases of the program were understood and well formulated. Excellent outcome in a very short time frame. ”


“Kelly and I worked together on a very large project trying to secure a new Insurer client. Kelly had fantastic commercial awareness as well as his technical expertise. Without him I would never had secured this client so I owe a lot to him. He is also a really great guy!”


“I worked with Kelly whilst at Thoughtworks and found him to be a most inspiring individual, his common-sense approach coupled with a deep understanding of Agile and business makes him an invaluable asset to any organisation. I can't recommend Kelly enough.”


“Kelly is an Agile heavy-weight. He came in to assess my multi-million $ Agile development program which wasn’t delivering the right throughput. He interviewed most of the team and made some key recommendations that, when implemented, showed immediate results. I couldn’t ask for more than that except he’s a really nice guy as well.”


“Kelly revolutionised the way our digital department operated. A true advocate of agile principles, he quickly improved internal communication within our teams and our internal clients by aligning our business and creating a much enhanced sense of transparency in the decisions the business was making. Kelly also introduced a higher sense of empowerment to the development teams...”


“Kelly’s a leading program director with the ability to take charge from day one and keep strong momentum at both a program and project level driving prioritisation, resourcing and budgeting agendas. Kelly operates with an easy-going style and possesses a strong facilitation skill set. From my 5 months experience working with Kelly, I would recommend Kelly to program manage large scale, complex, cross company change programs both from a business and IT perspective.”


“I worked with Kelly on many projects at IPC and I was always impressed with his approach to all of them, always ensuring the most commercially viable route was taken. He is great at managing relationships and it was always a pleasure working with him.”


“Kelly was a great colleague to work with - highly competent, trustworthy and generally a nice bloke.”


“Kelly was a brilliant CTO and a great support to me in the time we worked together. I owe Kelly a great deal in terms of direction and how to get things done under sometimes difficult circumstances. Thanks Kelly.”


“Kelly came to the department and has really made a huge impact on how the department communicates, collaborates and generally gets things done. We were already developing in an agile way, but Kelly has brought us even more into alignment with agile and scrum best practices, being eager to share information and willing to work with us to change our processes rather than dictate how things must be done. He is highly knowledgable about agile development (as his active blog proves) but his blog won't show what a friendly and knowledgeable guy he is. I highly recommend Kelly to anyone looking for a CTO or a seminar on agile/scrum practices - you won't be disappointed!”


“Kelly is an extremely talented and visionary leader. As such he manages to inspire all around him to achieve their best. He is passionate about agile and has a wealth of experience to bring to bear in this area. If you're 'lucky' he might even tell you all about his agile blog. Above all this, Kelly is great fun to work with. He is always relaxed and never gets stressed - and trust me, he had plenty of opportunity here! If you get the chance to work with Kelly, don't pass it up.”



To explore how we can help you, please get in touch