Agile practices in ITSM – part 3: Using squad health check in service desk teams

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I was introduced to Spotify’s squad health check method a couple of years ago. Over time I have found it to be an enormously useful tool to track team status and progress over time. It focuses on some key areas that I see as vital for team development and autonomy. This method is out of the box focused on agile development teams. With this article I aim to show how it can be adapted to fit an ITIL service desk team i.e. using agile practices in ITSM.

The Spotify squad health check model created by Henrik Kniberg and Krisitan Linwall and can be found at: https://labs.spotify.com/2014/09/16/squad-health-check-model/. If you are unfamiliar with the squad health check model, I urge you to read it prior to contiuing this article.

How we do it

We do the team health check in a face-to-face workshop for one hour with the whole team being in the room. We have the goal of doing it four times a year, but always fails holding this schedule.

An awesome card is read it out loud by one of the team members. We then have a short discussion on the meaning of the card and what green, yellow, and red means in this case. After this we give each member a little time to think on their answer. On the count of three all participants show their vote and the results are written down. After this we continue to the next awesome card (and the next team member) until all have been read and voted for.  We try to keep the time box of one hour which requires some moderation from the workshop facilitator.

After the voting has been concluded we go through each awesome card result one at a time and discuss the results. In this case we also, if possible, find an appropriate action to try to remedy any bad or unwanted results. If we land on extreme results, it’s better to have a separate meeting. In such meeting we can discuss the specific area more thoroughly and find suitable actions.

The discussions and actions we decide upon are in my experience the most important results of the health check. With the action you can, over time, do a comparison before and after the health check to see if the actions had any effect. We put the agreed upon action(s) in our visualization.

Visualisation

Instead of trying to explain how our visualization, here is a picture of it. Click for larger version.

I take no credit for coming up with the template for this visualization. It is an updated and changed version from a template I got from my former colleague. I have in this example also tried to create an overall score for each session of the health check. We have the visualization printed and hung in the team room for everyone to be able to see, also managers and passers by.

Adapted awesome cards

The supplied awesome cards from the original article does not fully apply to a service desk team. Therefore I have adapted some of them to what we have found to be suitable. As stated in the original model you can add or change the cards as you wish, as long as you try to use the same cards over time. This so that you can track progress in the health checks over time and how improvement actions affect the results.

(click on picture to download a PDF)

Follow Jonas Carlsson:

Agile coach

I am an Agile coach with background in development and infrastructure.

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