Agile team evaluation

I’ve been thinking a bit about team evaluation. In the agile world, this is often done by looking at practices – is the team doing pairing, are they doing story mapping, how long is their iteration length?

This is definitely a useful thing to do, but it can sometimes be too prescriptive; a specific practice needs to be good for a team where they are right now, and that’s always clear. I’m a big fan of not blocking checkin on code review, but I need something to replace it (continuous code review through pairing or mobbing) before it makes sense.

Instead, I’ve tried to come up with a set of questions that focus out the outcomes that I think are most important and whether the team is getting better at those outcomes. I’ve roughly organized them into four categories (call them “Pillars” if you must).


1: Delivery of Business Value

  • Is the team focused on working on the most important things?
  • Are they delivering them with a quality they are proud of?
  • Are they delivered in small, easy-to-digest chunks?
  • Is the team getting better?

2: Code Health

  • Is the code well architected?
  • Are there tests that verify that the code works and will continue to work?
  • Is the team getting better over time?
    • Is the architecture getting cleaner?
    • Is it easier to write tests?
    • Is technical debt disappearing?
    • Are bugs becoming less frequent?
    • Are better technologies coming in?

3: Team Health

  • Is the team healthy and happy?
  • Is there “esprit de corps” in the team?
  • Are team members learning to be better at existing things?
  • Are team members learning how to do new things?
  • Does the team have an experimental mindset?

4: Organization Health

  • Are changes in approaches by the team(s) leading to changes in the overall organization?
  • Are obstacles to increase speed and efficiency going away?
  • Are the teams trying different things and sharing their findings? Or is the organization stuck in a top-down, monocultural approach?
  • Is there a cleared vision and charter for the organization?
  • Does the organization focus on “what” and “why” and let the teams control the “how”?