What would an Agile coach consider as important metrics to measure?
I’m going to put my consultant hat on and say, ‘it depends’.
It does depend on several factors.
- Why is the Agile coach there?
- What is the context that supports their engagement?
- Are they a temporary fixture or a long-term appointment?
- What are they doing?
If the Agile coach has been appointed to work with the team, exclusively at the team level, then the focus of their metrics and measurement will be team related.
So, what does your business or organization care about at the team level?
The metrics that provide insights into what is most important at the team level are the best place for you to focus. As we step up, guess what, the question remains the same.
What does your business most care about at that level?
- What are the metrics that provide insight into whether the team are moving the needle in the right direction or not?
- What are the metrics that reflect whether the department is improving or not?
- What are the metrics which are leading indicators for Objectives and Key Results the business most cares about?
The role of an Agile coach at any point in the business is simple. It’s to help individuals, teams and the organization move the needle on what most matters to you.
They are goal-oriented and focused on helping you achieve the objectives that most matter whilst instilling a commitment to continuous improvement within the team and organization-at-large.
So, if delivery speed is important to the organization, an agile coach would be measuring whether the team are slowly and steadily and sustainably improving their time to market.
If customer satisfaction and delight is incredibly important to you, an agile coach could use a marketing metric like customer satisfaction index or Net Promotor Score (NPS) to gage whether the product or features are leading to increased customer satisfaction and delight.
Leadership and executive teams are not too concerned with ‘how’ the team are achieving the goals and objectives. They are more concerned with ‘what’ and ‘why’.
These are the needles we most care about,
- is the work that is being done helping to move that in a positive direction or not?
- Are the outcomes that we seek being achieved at the team and department level?
- Is there a measurable improvement, sprint on sprint, that indicates that we are moving closer to our goals?
If it is working at the team level, great, the executive and leadership team may want to extend that to a programme level or across a range of portfolios.
The Agile coach would then be responsible for helping teams of teams achieve those goals and objectives and measure the success of the team against the metrics that the management and leadership teams most care about.
An agile coach would also be invested in helping the team work out what they can do to improve on each of those measures. Help them understand why those measures are significant and what needs doing to move the needle on those measures.
Note that any metric is gameable. Make it such that gaming the system is a good thing.
Make sure that the measures support each other. If the speed of delivery increases but the quality of the work produced decreases, that isn’t a good thing. If the amount of work being delivered increases yet it is of no value to customers or product owners, that isn’t a good thing either.
You want to make sure that the metrics you employ are balanced and support continuous improvement across the team and organisation.
An agile coach will want to experiment with the team to see how each hypothesis delivers against the opportunity for improvement. We want to experiment with the team to make sure that we can discover a better way of achieving better results for the team and organisation.
It is great when the team have a super week and outperform all benchmarks, but we want to focus on consistency and sustainability in all the improvements we make.
- Can the team consistently deliver great work within this time frame?
- Can the team sustainably deliver great work at this pace?
- Can the team continue to innovate, and progress given the environment and constraints?
Measuring what matters is incredibly important so take your time when designing metrics and include the team in those conversations. Make sure that everyone is onboard with what you are going to measure and that everybody has a clear understanding of why those measures matter.
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