Stages of Agile Maturity

Introduction

Agile IQ Stages CMMI 1-5

There are distinct sets of behaviours that strengthen as a team becomes more agile. While their growth in these behaviours is not linear, it does follow a predictable pattern of development and team evolution.

Stage One: Starting

Agile IQ: 0-48

Delivery depends on talented people, but because skills are embedded in specific individuals, delivery isn’t yet scalable and success isn’t repeatable. A team at this stage of its agile journey is typically either just learning how to be agile, or hasn’t firmly committed to changing the way that they work. Choosing a framework and just doing the basics right is key to evolving to the next level.

Archetypal behaviours:

  • Management direction and task delegation.
  • Ad-hoc or waterfall practices.
  • Optimisation for ultilisation.

Focus for growth:

  • Managers must establish and promote guardrails for self-organisation.
  • Transparency of work.

Stage Two: Establishing

Agile IQ: 49-92

Teams at this level of their learning journey are focused on mastering the basics. Combined with self-organisation, these two key areas are vital to seeing improved throughput, lower costs and reduced delivery risk.

Archetypal behaviours:

  • Focus on getting the basics of agile right.
  • Alignment to industry standard roles and practices.
  • Keeping things simple (and not overcomplicating agile practices).

Focus for growth:

  • Master the basics.
  • Self-organisation.
  • Delivery within guardrails.
  • Consistency of agile practice and roles across teams, this includes tool usage.
  • Connecting team backlogs to the organisation.

Stage Three: Evolving

Agile IQ: 93-130

Teams at this level of maturity should start showing higher levels of productivity, transparency and quality. They typically advance to even higher levels of effectiveness when they learning advanced patterns and practices such as Design Thinking, DevOps, and Lean UX.

Predictability of quality and delivery will improve when the team and its Product Owner shift focus to creating a sustainable pace. Sustainable pace improves predictability and reduces team burn-out and fatigue. Encourage the team to find its rhythm and establish a state of flow supported by metrics.

Archetypal behaviours:

  • Delivery with empiricism ensures repeatability and scalability.
  • Customer-first mindset.
  • Delivery of value over “requirements”.

Focus for growth:

  • Addition of advanced practices such as Design Thinking, DevOps, Kanban, Lean UX.
  • Moving to agile product management from agile “project” management.

Stage Four: Strengthening

Agile IQ: 131-165

Stage Four teams are high performers. They should regularly show consistent high throughput at a high level of quality and sustainable pace. It shouldn’t be unusual for these teams to double their throughput when the type of work is consistent over a few months.

Archetypal behaviours:

  • Optimising delivery through Lean practices.
  • Agile OKRs and Evidence Based Management.

Focus for growth:

  • Flow metrics.
  • Understanding, identifying and removing waste.
  • Optimising throughput and quality.

Stage Five: Optimising

Agile IQ: 166+

Stage Five teams are agile leaders. They look beyond their own team to support others to be agile and contribute to the organisation’s ways of working to improve delivery and quality. They lead by example.

Archetypal behaviours:

  • Investment in continuous improvement.
  • Systems Thinking.
  • Leading by example.
  • Helping other teams learn evolve and grow.

Focus for growth:

  • Agile leadership.

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