Self-assessing Your Agility with the Agile Self-assessment Game

The Agile Self-Assessment Game is there to help you to increase your agility and deliver more value.

Agile self-assessment help organizations and teams to assess how agile they are and decide what to do next to become more agile. Teams can play the Agile Self-assessment Game to reflect and agree on the next steps in their agile journey.

Map for your Agile journey

Becoming agile is a journey of continuous improvement. To travel it well, you need to think about where you want to go and how to travel it. It helps to have a kind of “agile map”.

The Agile Self-Assessment Game consists of cards with statements on applying agile practices, playing suggestions, and experience stories.

It is supported by expansion packs for Scrum, KanbanDevOps, and Business Agility.

The game is also available in Dutch, French, and Polish.

The game and expansion packs help you to self-assess the values, principles, and practices of specific frameworks and evaluate how well you are doing and where to improve.

You can use the game for chartering teams or to reflect and learn (for instance in retrospectives) and agree upon the next steps in your agile journey.

Suggestions for playing the game are:

  • When you’re a new team then you can play the game to discover what you need to arrange to get started.
  • Existing teams can do a sailboat retrospective to find out where to improve and deliver more value.
  • In an agile transformation, the game can be used to decide where and how to invest in agile.
  • Playing ther game helps teams to focus by asking “What is the single thing that is most needed now to work agile as a team.”

Agile coaches use self-assessments in agile transformations to guide teams and help them learn about agile to find their way.

As the name self-assessment suggests, this game provides an assessment tool that teams can use themselves when, where, and how they want. Neither the assessment nor the results are imposed on the team, teams are free to decide what to do and how to do it. Playing the Agile Self-assessment game brings value to teams, and it’s fun!

How it all started

Teams and organizations that I work often ask me to help them find out how agile they are. I started searching for tools and checklists which I listed on the Agile Self-Assessment webpage (a page that I have been maintaining since September 2013). Usually when I tried them out, I needed to tailor them to suit the specific needs of the teams/organizations that I work with.

Early 2016 I created a new card game to do Agile Self-assessments, based on my knowledge and experience from doing assessments with teams. I started using this game in my workshops to teach agile practices and when I coach teams. Every time I used it I learned and improved it. Driven by the success that I had with clients and from giving training, I decided to go public at XP Days 2016. The rest, as they say, is history :-).

Value that the game brings

Initially, I offered the Agile Self-assessment Game for free on my website. When I asked for feedback after more than 1000 people had downloaded it, close to 100 people from all over the world responded where almost half of them provided short cases on how they played the game and the benefits that they got. With their permission, I published some of them (currently 32 cases) as reviews on the game. For me, they are clear evidence of what the game brings to teams and organizations.

Some examples that show the value the game has brought:

Ben’s Agile Assessment game is easy to adopt and easy for teams to pick up. It enables team members to share their thoughts about where their team is (vis-à-vis agile) in a non threatening fashion and is fun too.

Playing the game builds clarity and alignment on what Agile means to everyone on the team and helps team members meaningfully evaluate their agility. We were also able to surface unspoken priorities that had been strong influencers in the team dynamics but weren’t explicit.

I played the game with a team struggling to get out of old habits while going through agile transformation. The benefits we got are individual and team awareness of rooted beliefs and opportunities to advance beyond these beliefs.

As a Scrum Master for several teams I can attest to the value of the Agile Self-Assessment Game for teams to explore important principles and topics. The addition of the expansion packs increases the value by allowing the team to focus based on the way the team works or what’s important to the team.

My experience with free downloads is that most don’t use them, they just want to have it. A 10% response of people who actually played the game or asked for advice to play it — that many people which took time to fill in a survey and react — is pretty amazing I guess. This convinced me that the game has value.

People who download the game get Free Lifetime Support (FLS) via email. And yes, they use that to find better ways to play the game with their teams and get more value.

Not a marketing tool

As apparently the game brings value to organizations, it makes sense that I ask people to pay for that value. This also warrants the time that I invest in updating the game and adding more playing suggestions. It is a product that I’m selling, which I improve based on feedback and on changing demands in the market, new developments, etc.

For example, I reviewed the Kanban cards using Klaus Leopold’s book Practical Kanban which (as the title suggested) has many great suggestions for using Kanban and assessing Kanban systems and usage. And I will update the Scrum cards based on the new revision of the Scrum guide that was released recently.

I’m aware that many consider things like assessment tools to be mainly for marketing or acquisition. This is not how I view them. Instead, I focus on the value that assessments bring to get energy or buy-in for improvement, alignment on what to improve, empowerment and motivated employees, and many more.

I’m not at all focusing on marketing when I work on my games. Downgrading the Agile Self-assessment Game to a marketing or sales tool would be a disservice to the agile community.

Assessing your Agility

The number of games that I’m selling (currently only available as digital PDF download) keeps increasing. People buy the game and one or more expansion packs, some also top it up with my books. I’m reaching many people worldwide this way, something which I could never have done with workshops or advice (not even trough remote coaching or any other form of remote working). And it scales, where scaling sometimes poses challenges with many of my other activities 🙂

If you want more than the game and FLS by email, then I also provide services for assessing your agility and to increase delivered value using the Agile Self-assessment Game. Examples are in-house workshops and public workshops which include playing the Agile Self-assessment Game, agile assessment for your team, department, or organization, facilitation for playing the game at your event (conference, meetup, hackathon, game lab, etc), and tailoring the Agile Self-assessment Game to your specific needs. Contact me for details.

As a senior adviser and coach with more than thirty years of experience in software development and management, I’m there to guide you through your agile journey and help you increase your agility to deliver more value to your customers and stakeholders!

 

Ben Linders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the game ! We got copies from the XP Days 2016, and we ran a session yesterday with a group of agile teams that are working together.

    I was very glad about the result as it allowed each team to find out, by themselves, the points they got right and what they should work to improve.

    1. Great hearing from you Philippe, thanks for sharing your experiences from playing the game.

      XP Days Benelux 2016 was the first public event where I played the game. The feedback and support I received from that session were awesome, still gives me the shivers. Thank you!

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