Anatomy of an Agendashift template

Aside some basic text fields (name, description and so on), an assessment template in Agendashift has three main elements:

  1. A single scoring scale, applied across the whole assessment
  2. Categories
  3. For each category, a number of prompts

This simple structure has some advantages. Let’s look at those elements through a specific example, the Values-based delivery template that Agendashift will launch with.

Scoring scale

As anticipated a year ago in this personal blog post  “How deep” rebooted: values-based depth assessment, the Values-based delivery template uses a four-point scoring scale inspired by the Agile Fluency Model (Diana Larsen and James Shore). With the help of my collaborator Dragan Jojic I’ve simplified my language a bit since then. It now looks like this:

  1. Barely started – little evidence, if any
  2. Early gains – sporadic evidence, not widespread or consistent
  3. Getting there – evident, but improvement or more consistency needed
  4. Nailing it, consistently – firmly established, widely and consistently evident

Why four?

  • It’s not two, the binary “yes/no”, so allowing a stronger sense of trajectory
  • It’s not three or five, so avoiding offering a lazy middle choice
  • It allows for some qualitative description of the points on the scale
  • Small, punchy, memorable. How could you achieve that with a ten point scale?

That said, if your template needs a different scale, feel free…

Having just the one scale apply across the whole template might seem like a limitation, but it makes it much easier to aggregate and interpret results. And remember: the point of an assessment isn’t to measure precisely, it’s to help gain agreement that something isn’t yet “widespread or consistent” (for example). And if that something is also seen as both desirable and important (we’ll get to that in a future post), we have a basis for change.

Categories

In the Values-based delivery template, categories map to values (transparency, collaboration, flow, etc). Values have the very important property that “more is better” (generally speaking), so it’s very helpful if an assessment can be structured around them. However, not every template can be organised that way, so Agendashift uses the more neutral word category.

The Values-based delivery template has six categories: Transparency, Balance, Collaboration, Customer Focus, Flow, and Leadership. If you’re familiar with that model, are you wondering what has happened to Understanding, Agreement, and Respect? The truth is that I feared (with some justification I think) that a 9-page assessment would be too great a test of patience, and I have combined those last three with Leadership (readers of my book won’t be surprised by that move). There’s some special support for this in Agendashift, as illustrated in this screenshot:

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 07.41.16

At the time of writing it’s not possible to analyse results by those “incorporated” categories; that might come later.

Prompts

I very nearly called them “questions” but I’m glad I didn’t! I ask questions because I want answers. I give prompts in the hope that they stimulate something positive.

There’s nothing in Agendashift that requires it, but I lean towards “we” and “our” in the wording of the prompts themselves. This is no doubt partly due simply to how I tend to speak, but I do think it is helpful if the assessment can come with a sense of inclusion, ownership and teamwork. Some examples from the Values-based delivery template:

  • We meet frequently to share with each other what we’re discovering in the course of our work
  • We take care not to overburden the system with more work-in-progress than it can accommodate effectively
  • We actively seek to understand the value and urgency of potential work from the perspective of the end customer

I can imagine a “prompt of the day”. Is that a feature you’d value?


User testing has been very positive, and we’re on track for Agendashift to launch next month. To be sure of staying up to date with developments, sign up today! You can follow us on Twitter too.

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