A few weeks ago, I discovered the "Nokia Test", two simple sets of questions to respectively check if you are doing iterative development and if you are doing Scrum.
Alone the first set of questions knocks it out of the ballpark:
- Iterations must be timeboxed to less than 4 weeks -> This is easy... to fake. This is already a good indicator. But you need to check if the software produced could stand on its own. It is really easy to iteratively produce a waterfall and not be able to release anything until the very (bitter) end, a.k.a. "Big Bang". But nevertheless a good indicator to observe.
- Software features must be tested and working at the end of each iteration -> If you want to have working software, you cannot cut corners on testing. And if you want to know if it is working at the end of the sprint, you need a level of automation that few teams really understand.
- The iteration must start before specification is complete -> Few teams really manage to give up the certainty of "exhaustively written userstories with detailed acceptance criteria" and thus reach this state. How often do I see clients writing novels in JIRA User Stories and leaving no place for developer creativity.
With only 3 simple questions, you will be able to assess if a team is building in an evolutionary manner, with a drive toward excellence and harnessing the power of the team to learn as they go.