A Dreyfus model for Agile adoption

A couple of people have asked for this recently, so just posting it here to get it under the CC licence. It was written a while ago, and there are better maturity models out there, but I still find this useful for showing teams a roadmap they can understand.

If you want to know more about how to create and use your own Dreyfus models, this post might help.

What does an Agile Team look like?


We have a board
We put our stories on the board
Every two weeks, we get together and celebrate what we’ve done
Sometimes we talk to the stakeholders about it
We think we might miss our deadline and have told our PM
Agile is really hard to do well


We are trying to deliver working software
We hold retrospectives to talk about what made us unhappy
When something doesn’t work, we ask our coach what to do about it
Our coach gives us good ideas
We have delegated someone to deal with our offshore communications
We have a great BA who talks to the stakeholders a lot
We know we’re going to miss our deadline; our PM is on it
Agile requires a great deal of discipline


We know that our software will work in production
Every two weeks, we show our working software to the stakeholders
We talk to the stakeholders about the next set of stories they wants us to do
We have established a realistic deadline and are happy that we’ll make it
We have some good ideas of our own
We deal with blockers promptly
We write unit tests
We write acceptance tests
We hold retrospectives to work out what stopped us delivering software
We always know what ‘done’ looks like before we start work
We love our offshore team members; we know who they are and what they look like and talk to them every day
Our stakeholders are really interested in the work we’re doing
We always have tests before we start work, even if they’re manual
We’ve captured knowledge about how to deploy our code to production
Agile is a lot of fun


We are going to come well within our deadline
Sometimes we invite our CEO to our show-and-tell, so he can see what Agile looks like done well
People applaud at the end of the show-and-tell; everyone is very happy
That screen shows the offshore team working; we can talk to them any time; they can see us too
We hold retrospectives to celebrate what we learnt
We challenge our coach and change our practices to help us deliver better
We run the tests before we start work – even the manual tests, to see what’s broken and know what will be different when we’re done
Agile is applicable to more than just software delivery


We go to conferences and talk about our fantastic Agile experiences
We are helping other teams go Agile
Business outside of IT are really interested in what we’re doing
We regularly revisit our practices, and look at other teams to see what they’re doing
The company is innovative and fun
The company are happy to try things out and get quick feedback
We never have to work late or weekends
We deploy to production every two weeks*
Agile is really easy when you do it well!

* Wow, this model is old.

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5 Responses to A Dreyfus model for Agile adoption

  1. 1) Lovely.
    2) Liz is a treasure.
    3) What about CD? Would that be super-expert?

    • Liz says:

      Aw, thanks Tim!

      I think these days I’d place CD at the knowledgeable level. There’s lots of teams doing it. Back when I wrote this model (2009?) it was rare for anyone who claimed to be “Agile” to even be releasing once every two weeks, hence my, “Wow, this is model old,” edit to the original. These days I’d put releasing every two weeks into the “independently successful” practitioner bracket. Teams really do need to be aiming for this.

      Having said that, I do love Kanban’s call to continuously improve, and I suspect that this, rather than necessarily releasing, is one of the things I’d be looking for in a team these days. If I see a team or managers working to address the constraints outside of their own sphere of influence then I know they’ll get there eventually. There’s probably a different model in that.

  2. Pingback: Baeldung Weekly Review 17 | Baeldung

    • Liz says:

      Dean, when you wrote this I immediately thought of the GROW method – Goal, Reality, Options, Way Forward. It’s a common coaching method that I’ve blogged about before, and it does work very well with Dreyfus.

      I can’t see the relevance of GROWS from what’s here; probably I would need to know more about it. I do think it’s a shame they’ve trademarked that name, though. It’s very confusing, given that GROW’s been around for a while, and obviously from your comment the applicability of the two is similar. If you get a chance, please do point the authors at GROW as it might not be too late to rethink.

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