Using Data-Driven Agile Metrics to Get The Most Out of Your Team

Blog

February 7, 2020

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

Inspect and adapt. These are words every agile practitioner will hear countless times in their career—and rightly so. What does it take to inspect and adapt? The answer is, as are all things agile, both simple and extremely complex. It all comes down to experiments.

The scientific method is by far the most powerful pattern when it comes to determining reality and informing what can be done to change it. The yardsticks we use to understand and interpret our experiments are known as metrics. Yes, one of the buzziest of buzz words, but that’s because it’s true.

Levvel finds that the frustration with metrics often comes from their misuse. When metrics are used to measure everyday performance and are long-lived, it tends to result in two things:

  1. Performers are incentivized to do work that makes their metrics look good, not deliver value. More times than not, metrics are not perfectly correlated to value delivery, and the more longer-lived the metric, the truer that is. Which leads us to our next point.

  2. Managers start to ignore team metrics. Managers begin to realize that the metrics of the teams aren’t well-tuned, and so they begin to dismiss them and return to trusting their gut.

So, we have employees who are miss-incentivized, and managers who ignore the thing miss-incentivizing their people. What is there to do? Utilize short-lived metrics.

Short-Lived Metrics

Focus on using experiments to find ways to improve your processes (and read why sometimes process isn’t enough).

A sensible timeframe for those experiments is between retrospectives. It is a good practice to use the initial third of your Retrospective to analyze the data gathered, the middle third to figure out how you want to implement what you learned, and the final third to determine what the next experiment will be—using different metrics next time as the measuring stick. Never let your metrics become long-lived.

Our view is that there is one exception to this rule: happiness metrics. We use the Niko-Niko Calendar (mood board) on our teams. A less formal way to do this would be to ask your team how they’re feeling. Happiness metrics are not to be taken lightly. If your people aren’t happy, then how can you possibly expect them to put forth their best effort? According to this 2016 Gallup poll, 68% of American employees are disengaged or actively disengaged at work. The solution? Measure the right things, keep it short-lived, and focus on employee happiness.

About Levvel PMO

Successful product development begins with an efficient workflow across teams. Whether your organization needs targeted coaching, re-alignment, or assistance with a full-scale transformation, Levvel brings deep industry expertise and domain knowledge. Our team works in conjunction with yours to establish and refine highly functional, product-focused teams that will deliver value to your customers consistently.

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