Frequently asked questions about Comparative Agility

Here you will find basics information about Comparative Agility.

If you need additional help, feel free to contact us.

About
Comparative Agility is the world’s largest agile assessment tool and a cloud-based continuous improvement platform aimed at helping organizations continuously improve the way they create value.

Comparative Agility helps change agents cut through the noise and focus their energy, time and investments where it makes the most impact:
a) Leaders: Business leaders typically have a great idea of what challenges their organization is faced with - the problem is understanding which challenge is more pressing than the other. Comparative Agility helps amplify the voice of the teams – at all relevant levels of the organization, regardless of size. This helps leaders quickly know where to focus and make investments where it matters the most.
b) Coaches and Organizational change agents: Comparative Agility gives you visibility at the team, program and organizational levels - it shines a light - but it is up to you to dig further and then understand the "why" behind the results. In other words, Comparative Agility does not give you answers by itself - it provides insight so you can ask better questions. As coaches and organizational change agents, that is core to our job and critical for continuous improvement efforts overall.
c) Team members: The Retrospective is perhaps the most important ceremony in Scrum and critical to continuous improvement efforts. Yet, Retrospectives can often get stale and unproductive. Comparative Agility provides actionable data that the team can use to help spruce up their continuous improvement efforts and challenge themselves beyond traditional "Start-Stop-Continue" activities.

Using predefined set of questions:
1) Comparative Agility collects anonymous data from team members regarding how they work in a variety of contexts
2) provides a way for change agents to aggregate the results at various levels
3) compare the data against context-specific baselines and uncover insights regarding opportunities for improvement and how they can help teams where they need it the most.

Comparative Agility is a collection of statements that directly targets behaviors that support the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto and the concrete practices outlined in frameworks such as Scrum, XP and others. Thus, by responding to these statements, you'll get an idea of the degree to which your teams are working in an agile manner, based on these proven practices.

The authors of the survey, Mike Cohn and Kenny Rubin, are recognized experts in the industry and have decades of experience observing how teams work and what leads to (or what does not lead to) positive performance outcomes. Comparative Agility started out with more than 120 statements that detailed what they believed were the key elements of working in an agile manner, across the 8 dimensions of agility. As they started to analyze the data, they recognized that some of the statements did not provide sufficient "lift" from others - that is, a certain statement could explain the impact of another statement - so it was found to be superfluous.

Statisticians from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill spent additional time analyzing the data to understand the relative impact of each statement - and further remove those that did not adequately "explain" the data (removing spurious statements). After this culling was completed, Comparative Agility was reduced down to about 80 statements - each statement found to be significant in exampling an agile way of working.

Comparative Agility is used by all types of organizations, from industry-leading, billion dollar multinational companies to small and nimble start-ups. Since Comparative Agility can be tailored to fit any given organizational size, the tool is appropriate for a variety of contexts.

General

A Collector is a unit in which data is collected at the team level. Collectors can be combined and aggregated to provide a near limitless perspective tailored to organizations of any size.

The data is captured through a survey that records responses in a "Collector", a collection of data points at the team-level that is otherwise anonymous. Thus, although we can identify which team a given data point is associated with, we do not track any other user information.

Comparative Agility works best when people who respond to the survey can feel confident that their responses are completely anonymous so they can feel safe to respond honestly and accurately to the various statements being presented. If you are asked to identify your role, this can quickly remove any sense of anonymity.

Comparative Agility is about comparing teams, programs and organizations against meaningful baselines, not individuals or individual teams. The one exception to this is when we’re comparing a respective team to itself – at a different point in time.
We understand, the enterprise agility is not about achieving a given state or "5-star" standard, it's about continuously improving the way you operate as an organization. By tracking how teams are perceiving they are working, change agents can quickly identify where they may provide meaningful help – in a context-sensitive manner.

Let’s start with an analogy: The Dow Jones is a collection of companies that combined create an expression of the state of the American stock market and the economy overall.

In other words, when people want to understand whether or not the "Market" is up or down from the day before, they will refer to an Index such as the DJIA (or S&P500, Nasdaq or others). The point is that the Index is a snapshot of the market by which other stocks can easily be compared.

When a given stock is doing well, that is all well and good, but what's more important is how that stock is doing relative to the market overall. If you bought Google and ended up making 10% year-over-year, that is nice, but you would be disappointed if the market overall was moving at 25% YOY growth in the same period. In other words - performance is relative.

Comparative Agility works in much the same way. Rather than creating some artificial standard (like an Agile CMMI model or equivalent) and state that "thou shall work this way", we think it's more instructive to measure how teams out there are actually working and then compare ourselves to them, so we have a practical baseline.

If we find that we are comparing favorably in Technical Practices to the World Index over all - and our score is a 3.8/5 for instance - that may not make us happy, but it helps us understand that this is a challenging area and that others are struggling with the same thing. It also tells us that we should celebrate the success we're having - after all, if we're doing better than the World, we're clearly doing something right!

The Agility Index is thus an excellent way to capture a baseline - a place to start. But the real power of Comparative Agility is to leverage the tool when comparing your organization (the collection and individual teams) to themselves over time. In the end, business agility is about constantly improving the way you work. Comparative Agility is a critical tool to help you drive your organization-wide continuous improvement efforts.

The CA-IF is a comprehensive continuous improvement framework of which Comparative Agility is a core component. The other components include a Modified Open Space session, Individual Interviews and a collection of Objective Metrics. The CA-IF offers an efficient, scalable and multifaceted approach for embedding continuous improvement in the organization.

Support

a) An interactive user guide is available for all users who signup to Comparative Agility.
b) Personalized e-mail support and webinars are available for users with premium accounts.
c) Enterprise users, in addition to priority e-mail support and webinars, will receive additional 1:1 guidance on how to get started, assistance with analysis and initial user training for administrator users.

Yes; onsite training is available through certified CA instructors. Contact us for more information.