20 Questions to help you define the meaning of an 'Agile company'

The agile movement is happening for about 10 years now. A growing number of people and teams pick up the agile principles, methods and practices.

And no one would ever want to go back to the 'old' days. Agile becoming mainstream is definitively a good thing!

From time to time I hear people say that they work in an Agile Company. But what does that even mean?

Does it mean that everyone in your company knows and uses the agile lingua?
Or that you're doing iterative development with sprint planning and review meetings? 
That teams continuously learn through retrospectives? 
Or that you're applying continuous delivery, pair programming, test/behavior driven development,...?
Or that you’re applying Customer Development?
Or practice Lean and Kanban practices?
Or that your Scrum Masters and Product Owners are certified?
Or all of the above?

Let's take a step back and try to reflect a set of questions on the 4 agile values stated on the well known VersionOne Agile Poster: adaptability, transparency, simplicity and unity.

That way we might figure out for ourselves what an 'Agile Company' really means.

Value 1: Adaptability

  1. How quickly can your company respond to a compelling product from a competitor?
  2. How quickly can you evaluate and implement change requests from your customers?
  3. How quickly can you implement new (government) regulations?
  4. How quickly can you and your customers adapt new proven technologies? Or get rid of deprecated ones?
  5. How easy is it to change the planning for your future product portfolio? And for your current work?

Value 2: Transparency

  1. Do you know how your company is doing financially? What makes most money? What the cost structure is?
  2. Do you know the prospects your company approaches? And what you can do to help in that process?
  3. Do you know the return on investment for your products? What products are doing great? And which aren't?
  4. Do you know what the other teams in your company are working on? And how they are doing?
  5. How open are you in your communication with your customers?

Value 3: Simplicity

  1. How easy is it to jump start new competent people in your teams?
  2. How easy is it to visualize your products architecture? Visualize integrations with other products?
  3. How easy is it to explain in 2 minutes what you do for a living? What your company does?
  4. How much training do your end-users need to work with your products seamlessly?
  5. How easy is it to deploy new versions of your products?

Value 4: Unity

  1. Do you feel all the teams in your company are working to the same overall goals and vision?
  2. How high is the level of colleague finger pointing when something bad happens? Or do they jump in to solve the issue?
  3. Are team, management and stakeholder goals aligned?
  4. Are you helping your customers to achieve their goals?
  5. How high is the general one-for-all / all-for-one feeling?

With these kind of questions you should be inspired to help your company becoming a more agile one.

If you have great questions that should be in this list, please contribute.

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