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The Agile Appraisals Manifesto

Last week (9 – 11 February 2015) we attended the Scrum Coach Retreat in South Africa. Some friends of ours formed a group dedicated to looking at how appraisals are done at large corporates and if they could be made more agile. We loved what they came up with so much we had to blog about it! 

The Authors : 

Philip (@7ft_phil), Justin (@the_jus), Candice (@candicemesk), Yusuf (@ykaloo)

The Situation


Appraisal must happen in a corporate agile team


Doing agile and doing it right in terms of delivery of software.

We want to

Ensure that the appraisal process supports the agile process we embrace. Eg. Adapting to change, reviews more regularly, inspect and adapt, teams over individuals, encourage courageous feedback.

Proposed Elevator Pitch

We’ve all experienced performance appraisals, and we’ve all realised that they violate the agile values that we hold dear. Perhaps subjectivity from the person in power led to an unfair or skewed result, perhaps the infrequency of assessments meant recent events dominated rather than the big picture? Do you truly feel that the feedback received allowed you to improve as much as you can, and do you feel the reward is fair? Imagine guidelines that shape appraisals past the pitfalls and rewards an agile friendly outcome.

Agile Appraisals Manifesto

Fairness over malice.

Actionable feedback over numbers.

Frequent reality checks over enticing gaming of the process.

Rewards reflective of business value added over rewarding the status quo.

Principles of the Agile Appraisals Manifesto

  • We respect individuals regardless of the power dynamic in the process.
  • Criteria should be visible and the process transparent.
  • The process is fluid and can change as long as the manifesto is applied.
  • Appraisals should be regular enough to ensure no surprises.
  • We embrace and support and reward changing actions where business reality demands.
  • We recognise the value of work done.
  • Appraisals should be done by people with context.
  • We assess as frequently as possible, but no more frequent than would be disruptive.
  • Metrics should be easy to understand , assessable and achievable, and have a shelf life.
  • We provide frequent actionable feedback to help teams and people improve.

Thank you so much for sharing this with us Phil, Justin, Candice and Yusuf. We think it’s a great place to start conversations to improve how appraisals are done, especially for organisations where getting rid of appraisals is too big a step right now.

5 thoughts on “The Agile Appraisals Manifesto”

  1. Good approach, and parts of it can be improved.

    The Agile Manifesto expresses principles (=guiding lines to help you choose between alternatives), since it “values” things on the “left” more than those on the “right”. Essentially, this means that there may be reasonable people who still advocate things on the right more than those on the left – agilistas just don’t agree with them, but they can understand their position.

    This is a bit hard to do with two of the clauses of the Agile Appraisals Manifesto. I can’t imagine too many people advocating “malice” or “enticing games” at all. So I’d feel more comfortable if we considered those two to be forms of abuse of something that was meant to be a good thing.

    The question is: what is the positive intention that sometimes degenerates into “malice”? Into “enticing games”? What do “fairness” and “frequent reality checks” be balanced with?

    If I was to take a guess, I’d say something along the lines of “criticism” and “abstract evaluation criteria”. So the platitudes (who could disagree?) could be rephrased as principles: “fairness over criticism” and “frequent reality checks over abstract evaluation criteria”.

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. Hello,

    Interesting, I am just writing about it, and trying to put all this in a e-book. I really would like to be in contact with Phil, Justin, Candice and Yusuf. I will try to contact them by tweeter, but if you could point me to them (by email) or let them know that I would like to talk more about this subject I will really appreciate.
    You could check more about what I am writing here:

  3. Pingback: Agile Best Practices, Values, Principles and Virtues

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