Six simple principles to see how agile your team is

John Michaelides Agile coaching, Thought leadership

There’s a growing realisation among leaders that just ‘doing’ agile brings no value.

Instead, these leaders understand there’s more chance of prosperity when they’re actually ‘being’ agile – living the principles rather than cranking the handle. But as a leader, how do you know if your organisation is ‘being’ or ‘doing’? How do you know if you’re serving them effectively or getting in their way?

You could survey your organisation and create a maturity model. Great. But it’s not quick enough and the results are often best used to monitor a transformation rather than taking a pulse and making a tweak.

So what else can you do?

Here are six simple principles and behaviours you can measure that will give you a good idea of where you are on the ‘being’ Agile scale and the key things you can do to nudge leadership, team or organisational behaviours.


People power agile teams. How are people sharing ideas and innovations, asking for help or coming together to achieve an outcome? Do people work together or in isolation?



High-performing teams understand their work backlog, have a precise method for prioritising what’s important and make the best use of everybody’s particular talents in meeting their goals.



Effective teams share their work and progress and aren’t afraid to highlight problems and seek appropriate help. For example, great software teams highlight their working software at every step and seek constant feedback on how to improve it.



Agile teams are driven by the value they create. Is the team specifically aligned with delivering the organisation’s goals? Are they providing an end-to-service to their customer? Is what they’re doing directly related to the value proposition?



Does the team have the right skills to meet their outcomes? Are they using modern methods and steadily improving or are they stuck in old ways and essential vital skills?



Servant leaders best enable agile teams. Properly enabled teams have the authority, understanding and capability to deliver the service or outcome their customer needs without constant external reference. Progressive leaders understand they set the context for their teams and say thank you at the end – the rest of the time they make it possible for the team to get on with their job.



Being Agile can be a difficult journey.

But through progressive servant leadership and providing your teams with the support to continually ask questions and safely experiment with new approaches and behaviours, every leader can help their people excel.