Essence of Agility

Kristi (a ScrumMaster at my current client) and I were discussing the state of her Agile teams and we started sketching a framework for our discussions — the seeds of this framework were planted by Sandi Keller and Andrew Fuqua (@andrewmfuqua) in numerous conversations earlier this year. We started with the basic aspects that allow companies to “ship frequently and reflect regularly” — a clear, well-defined, and prioritized backlog; a self-organizing team that produces and delivers product every Sprint; and engaged customers willing and able to accept the product iterations and to provide feedback to the product team.

As we started delving into each of the aspects, we fleshed out additional attributes for each. For example, certain things have to be in place before we can get to a well defined backlog. These might be a Product Owner (or a PO team that speaks with one voice) who spends time with the customers to understand their pains and needs, a PO who can articulate his (or her) vision of the product, a PO who can work with the stakeholders in prioritizing their needs, a PO who can translate these diverse needs into something that teams can work with, and finally a PO who can collaborate with the team and articulate her vision, the customer and stakeholder needs, and the underlying rationale.


A meaningful discussion was more than sufficient for Kristi and I to determine the next few areas to improve on and we didn’t even have to refer to the assessment that my current client has been using.

This basic framework was enhanced during additional discussions with other ScrumMasters. I’m not going to regurgitate what’s already in the sketch but would be happy to clarify any areas that aren’t clear. Additionally, I would be interested in other simple frameworks you find useful.

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