5 Signs Your Team is on the Path to Agility

5 Signs Your Team is on the Path to Agility

runners on tracks

Some of the comments on my previous article, Mixing Roles in a Scrum Team, explored the idea that the successful mixing of roles is dependent on a team’s maturity level.

However, this begs the question: how can we accurately assess a team’s maturity?

In the article Agile Self-Assessments, Ben Linders gathers many tools which any team can use to assess its maturity. Based on the results of such assessments, agile leaders can make informed decisions on how to proceed with team structuring.

Since I’ve already shared some of the signs that a team is lacking an agile mindset, I would now like to share five signs that an agile team is on the right track.

1.       A Release at the End of Each Sprint

The ability to release at the end of a sprint indicates several positive team traits, the most important of which is that the team understands and adheres to the definition of done. That is to say, all user stories which were finished in the sprint are in a releasable state. In these situations, “releasable” usually indicates that the product is suitable to be released to an internal integration environment, not to the end customer. However, an internal release is still a release nonetheless.

2.      A Staircase Burndown Chart

Having small user stories which can be finished in a short amount of time is a talent acquired by both the product owner and the team as they move upwards on the agility ladder. A staircase burndown chart showcases the team’s understanding of prioritization as well as the importance of delivering the product in small chunks rather than as a full-blown application.

3.      Gathering to Solve Problems

If you see the team sitting together around one computer and problem solving as a group, this reveals that the team is sharing knowledge, brainstorming, seeking a solution and, most importantly, that they are truly working together as a team.

4.      A Prioritized Backlog

Developing an estimated prioritized backlog is the main responsibility of the product owner, and he or she can’t do so without the help of the rest of the team. For a backlog to take shape, the product owner will need the team to estimate and clarify user stories, ask the proper questions and form adequate acceptance criteria.

5.      Short Planning Meetings

In general, the shorter the planning meetings, the more mature the team. This is because short meetings typically mean that many of the team’s uncertainties were already clarified during the backlog grooming session or via frequent communication with the product owner.

These are just a few of the many signs that a team is mature, but they are the ones which can be most easily spotted by agile leaders of any level.

Do you know about any other indications that a team is on the path to agility?

I would love to read about them and any other thoughts you may have in the comments section below.


Islam Kotb Ismail (PMP, CSM, CSPO) is a senior agile project manager and Scrum Master at Wirecard Technologies GmbH in Munich, Germany.

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