Agile Team Assessments
So what is an assessment? What is it in terms of an Agile assessment? Depends on what the individual, team, or organization wants to know about itself. Many types of assessment tools and techniques are available and can be either an assessment or a self-assessment. So what's the difference? An assessment is conducted by an outside, unbiased entity while a self-assessment is almost "self-explanatory" in that the assessing entity assesses itself. (e.g. Team Retrospective, Scrum Maturity Assessment, etc.)
In terms of an Agile assessment, understanding the what and why (or purpose) is the payoff, not the how (the technique used). Let's start with a Scrum team for example. How well is the Scrum Team performing with respect to the basics of Scrum? If a previous assessment was conducted, what is the delta? Better, worse, about the same? Consistency of daily standups, planning sessions, story quality, retrospectives, team realized empowerment rating, etc. are common check points. Most likely this would be a self-assessment because who would know better than the team as related to team dynamics and internal operations.
Same idea with an organizational transformation assessment. Suppose an organization is undergoing a transformation. Maybe there is an Agile transformation roadmap. An assessment could be something like an Agile Maturity Matrix to measure "how Agile are we" and how does the current state of transformation map to the organizational goals or roadmap? The approach may assess the Agile activities as related to the Agile values and principles. The Scrum assessment suggested previously could even be part of the overall organizational assessment.
Assessments provide a means to compare the difference between the current state of an entity (individual, team, or organization) as compared to the self-prescribed, desired state of the entity (desired future state). One can measure the delta between current state and desired state to better understand growth or transition patterns. Deltas can be indicators for the health of the transformation and provide feedback into the transformation process effectiveness (or ineffectiveness). I think this is just another example of self-awareness, reflection, and continuous improvement - attributes of the Agile values and principles. If you don't know where you're at in relation to a desired future state, it's hard to make adjustments (continuous improvement) or even knowing if the goal has been reached.
Research Credit: Leading Agile - https://www.leadingagile.com/2014/06/agile-assessments/