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How Does Your Agile Compare to Your Competition?

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A lot of times teams and organizations would like to evaluate their way of working with their competition. They would like to focus on their areas of improvement and incorporate feedback to do better. Comparative Agility assessment is an assessment tool which suggests that the results would help guide the organizations in planning the next set of Agile initiatives.

Mike Cohn mentioned that initially he thought that it is not worthwhile to compare to competition. One should keep improving everyday towards perfection. However, now he thinks in a different direction. According to Mike,

It took me awhile, but I eventually realized the flaws in my thinking. A business does not need to be perfect; it needs only to be better than (and stay ahead of) its competition. Google is the dominant search engine today not because the results it shows are perfect but because its results are usually better than those shown by its competition.

Thus, being more agile than one’s competitors is indicative of the organization’s ability to deliver better products. This led Kenny Rubin, Laurie Williams and Mike Cohn to create the Comparative Agility assessment (CA). When a survey is taken, the survey responses are compared against the entire database and an organization can compare against similar organizations. For example, a team can compare against all teams doing web development, all companies that are about six months into their agile adoption efforts etc.

CA approach assesses agility on seven dimensions:

  • Teamwork
  • Requirements
  • Planning
  • Technical practices
  • Quality
  • Culture
  • Knowledge creation

Currently, there is a database of 1123 surveys and you can register to take the survey. The survey is meant to be completed by an experienced ScrumMaster, coach, or consultant on behalf of a team or company based on interviews or observation.

Reacting to the tool Pasi Kantelinen suggested that instead of comparing Agility with the competition, one should answer the question, “How good results do we achieve?”. He added that the question could be extended to

"How good results do we achieve
- compared to what we achieved earlier? or
- compared to competitors? or
- compared to the best of the bread? or
- compared to excellent results?"

On similar lines, Julie agreed that just comparing Agility would not server the purpose as there are many teams who are using Agile practices but not going any faster in terms of speed or productivity.

Thus, though the end goal is delivering business value, however if you would like to know where your competition is then it might be a good idea to do the comparison.

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