An Agile Maturity Model?

02 April

Yesterday (perhaps not by coincidence) Scott Ambler published an article in Dr Dobbs Journal titled The Agile Maturity Model

In the article, he offers five levels of “maturity” that organisations and teams go through as they move from blind faith acceptance of Agile mantras through to the considered application of sensible practices and techniques are drawn from good practices irrespective of their source.

The five levels he describes are:

Level 1: The Rhetorical Stage.  At this level teams often latch onto the rules and practices of their chosen Agile methodology with the fervor of religious converts.  He states ”Level 1 Agile teams typically succeed because Agile strategies were applied on hand-picked pilot projects, by a small team of flexible and often highly-skilled people, and were given sufficient management support.”

Level 2: The Certified stage.  He is particularly scathing about level 2 implementations.  “The distinguishing feature of the Certified stage is that most team members have stayed awake in a two-day certification course and have successfully parroted back Agile rhetoric in a multiple guess test which few people seem to fail.”

Level 3:  The Plausible stage.  At this level organisations and teams are applying common sense to the application of appropriate techniques that work within the context of the ecosystem of that particular organisation.  “We also abandon the certification facade and instead focus on gaining the skills, and understanding the strategies, required to successfully deliver high-quality working software to our stakeholders and thereby pay down the integrity debt built up during the Certified stage”

Level 4: The respectable Stage.  This level is about realising the need to deliver not just software but fully working solutions that deliver business value.  “Furthermore, disciplined Agile delivery teams at this stage are self-organizing within an appropriate governance framework, recognizing that they work within the constraints of a larger organizational ecosystem”

Level 5: The Measured Stage.  At this level teams and organisations are actively improving their processes and approaches based on objective metrics collected in real-time, scaling their practices and adjusting their projects to ensure a continuous focus on maximum return on investment. Level 5 Agile practitioners are truly respectful of history, recognizing that the people who built the systems which are currently running the world had a bit of a clue after all.

In our training and work with teams and organisations, I believe the Software Education team helps them start at Level 4 and 5 and remain there - are we succeeding?


Posted by Shane Hastie