The Agile Fluency Model

Posted on Posted in Agile Adoption, Agile Coaching, Change Management, Lean Change Management

According to Martin FowlerOrganizational leaders are complaining that they’re not getting the benefits from Agile they expected”.

The Agile Fluency TM Model is a model developed by Diana Larsen and James Shore. They observed that teams developed through 4 distinct stages of Fluency TM.

We’ve observed that Agile teams develop through four distinct stages of fluency. Fluency is how a team develops software when it’s under pressure. Anyone can follow a set of practices when given time to focus in a classroom; true fluency is a skillful, routine practice that persists when your mind is distracted with other things.

Team fluency depends on more than just the capability of the individuals on the team. It also depends on management structures, relationships, organizational culture, and more. Don’t make the mistake of blaming individuals for low team fluency, or assuming that one highly-skilled individual will guarantee high team fluency.

The Agile Fluency Model

The purpose of the model is to help organisation achieve their expected Agile benefits.

In short, the Agile Fluency path winds through four variations on Agile teams that we’ve seen repeatedly across many organizations. We named the variations: Focus on Value (1 star), Deliver Value (2 star), Optimize Value (3 star), and Optimize for Systems (4 star). Our experience showed us that different organizations seemed to find a match for their teams and their business needs in each variation. We also noticed that teams that aspired to 2, 3, or 4 stars seemed to gain fluency in a predictable pattern of first gaining skill at teamwork and focusing on business and customer value, then building enough engineering expertise to deliver value on the market cadence, and so on. –

The four stages of Agile Fluency TM:

  • Focus on Value (One Star) – this stage requires a team to focus on creating business value rather than just finishing technical tasks.
  • Deliver on Value (Two Starts) – this stage requires the team to invest heavily in development skills. The team should be in a position to ship low-defect software as often as the market will accept it.
  • Optimise for Value (Three Stars) – this is the stage referred to as the “Promise of Agile”, and is what most organisational leaders are expecting from Agile. Teams at this level no longer see business and development as separate, but rather one team. The Team have the knowledge and experience to react to the market.
  • Optimise for Systems (Four Stars) – this stage represents the future of Agile. At this stage, teams will collaborate with other teams to optimise for the organisation.

You can find more information regarding the Agile Fluency TM Model on Martin Fowler’s website.

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