How to Test for Agility with the Agile Litmus Test

By Mark C. Layton

To be agile, you need to be able to ask, “Is this agile?” If you’re ever in doubt about whether a particular process, practice, tool, or approach adheres to the Agile Manifesto or the 12 principles, refer to the following list of questions:

  1. Does what we’re doing at this moment support the early and continuous delivery of valuable software?
  2. Does our process welcome and take advantage of change?
  3. Does our process lead to and support the delivery of working functionality?
  4. Are the developers and the product owner working together daily? Are customers and business stakeholders working closely with the project team?
  5. Does our environment give the development team the support it needs to get the job done?
  6. Are we communicating face to face more than through phone and email?
  7. Are we measuring progress by the amount of working functionality produced?
  8. Can we maintain this pace indefinitely?
  9. Do we support technical excellence and good design that allows for future changes?
  10. Are we maximizing the amount of work not done — namely, doing as little as necessary to fulfill the goal of the project?
  11. Is this development team self-organizing and self-managing? Does it have the freedom to succeed?
  12. Are we reflecting at regular intervals and adjusting our behavior accordingly?

If you answered “yes” to all these questions, congratulations; you’re truly working on an agile project. If you answered “no” to any of these questions, what can you do to change that answer to “yes”? You can come back to this exercise at any time and use the agile litmus test with your project team and the wider organization.