Perfection and Pragmatism

This is a long post, so here is the digest version first.

  • Develop a vision of perfection for your Agile business that includes the product AND the people that create it.
  • Think about what it feels like to work in this perfect Nirvana – engage your right brain.
  • Start moving toward that vision now as fast as you can without losing control – be pragmatic.
  • Be prepared to suffer some mental pain along the way – so eat cookies and drink milk.

That’s it. The rest of the post is some ranting to prime some thinking.

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Building Better Metrics

I have seen my share of good and bad metrics. And I continue to get it wrong. Then I learn and try again. Below are some of the guidelines I am using for developing useful metrics.

  1. TIE METRICS TO BUSINESS GOALS – seems obvious but a metric tells you something, and if that something cannot be tied directly to a business goal, why are you using it?
  2. GET ALIGNED ON THE GOALS BEFORE YOU START – it’s amazing how two people can look at the same goal and interpret it in completely different ways. Make the effort.
  3. BALANCED VIEW – weight your metrics so that you avoid over-rotating on any one or small set of measures. A balanced view of metrics provides a holistic picture.
  4. ORTHOGONAL METRICS – rather than use one complicated metric, develop two or three simpler ones that provide a faceted view of what you are trying to measure. The goal here is to avoid metric gaming and having a few metrics that look at a goal from different points of view. The benefit is simplicity without being simplistic. Measuring a complex system requires different views and synthesis to deliver the big picture.
  5. THE NAPKIN TEST – if you can’t write your metric calculation on a napkin and explain it in less than a minute, it is too complicated. Continue reading