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Measuring Agility, Craftsmanship, and Success

by Chris Sims on May 25, 2009 |

While Scott Ambler, Ross Pettit and others continue to pursue the creation of a maturity model for agile, David Starr has looked at how and why an organization might want to measure things like: agility, craftsmanship, and organizational success. He found craftsmanship relatively easy to measure, while agility was the most difficult to measure in a useful way.

David examined three areas that an organization might want to measure: agility, craftsmanship, and organizational success. He finds it relatively easy to find way to measure organizational success. The most common measure is profitability, or ROI. While this is an easy measurement to make, it is more difficult to understand all the potential causes for a given change in ROI. For this reason, ROI does not easily lend itself to being a measure of the effectiveness of organizational growth or improvement efforts. The article notes, but doesn't deeply explore, the many areas of measurement provided by Lean, which seem better suited to measuring organizational effectiveness and improvement.

The next area of measurement examined was agility. Unlike ROI, the term agility is not clearly defined. In order to answer the question 'How agile are we?' an organization has to first define measurable attributes of agility. David considers measuring the degree to which an organization's values align with those in the Agile Manifesto, but finds this not very useful. David didn't examine using the 12 principles behind the Agile Manifesto as a basis for measurement, which might be easier and more useful to measure.

The final area the David examines is craftsmanship. Andrew Hunt and David Thomas used a craftsmanship model in their book The Pragmatic Programmer. Bob Martin made a push for this model in his keynote at the Agile 2008 conference, and went on to create the Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship.

Guilds have been creating rating systems for craftsmen for ages. David shows how such a system could be created for developers, or any skills-based activity. He then shares a basic model for using the rating system to facilitate improvement:

  1. Pick a skill
  2. Assess your proficiency
  3. Make a decision to modify your behavior in a deliberate way
  4. Perform this new way
  5. Evaluate your skill level
  6. Repeat

Ultimately, David recommends using what he calls 'guild-specific instruments' to measure individual and team improvement in skills and capabilities, while making use of the instruments of Lean as tools for organizational improvement.

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Point of Accuracy by Micah Martin

While Bob Martin was one of the contributors of the Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship, he was not the sole creator. Most of major contributors of the manifesto are among the first signatures on the document. It is ultimately Doug Bradbury that deserves credit for coordinating and compiling the the manifesto.

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