Eight Dragons of Agile Metrics

Posted by Larry Maccherone on Oct 12, 2015 12:30:00 PM

Eight Dragons of Agile MetricsWhen implementing measures and metrics into your agile initiatives, it is easy to drift to the dark side. In a recent webinar, I discussed the eight dragons that one must slay in order to keep a metrics program on track.

In folklore, “thar be dragons” was said to warn people away, but for those brave enough to venture in and slay the dragons, there are great riches to be had.

My career, focused on agile measurement, has taught me many things, but most of all, this:

Using measurement in the agile environment can be dangerous.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how to overcome common pitfalls of Agile Measurement.

The Dragons of Agile Measurement

If you do metrics wrong, you will harm your agile transformation. Here are the eight dragons of agile measurement:

Dragon #1: Measurement as a lever to drive behavior.

Slayer: Embrace this opportunity for self improvement. Leverage measurement as feedback on your own performance.

Dragon #2: Unbalanced metrics.

Slayer: Choose one metric of each type: do it fast,  do it right,  do it on time,  and keep doing it.

Agile Metrics: Balanced Scorecard

Dragon #3: Metrics can replace thinking.

Slayer: Metrics complement thinking. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Not everything that counts can be counted.”

Dragon #4: Expensive metrics.

Slayer: Work with the data you have. Favor metrics derived from your existing records.

Dragon #5: Using a convenient metric, aka “lamp post metrics.”

Slayer: Continuing the Albert Einstein quote above, “Not everything than can be counted counts.” Slay this dragon with ODIM: Outcomes <- Decisions <- Insights <- Metrics.

Agile Metrics: ODIM

Dragon #6: Bad analysis.

Slayer:  Analysis can easily be done wrong. Make sure you have the proper training or background before trying to extract insights from your data. 

Dragon #7: Single outcome forecasts.

Slayer:  Every decision is a forecast. You are forecasting that your choice will have better outcomes than the other alternatives.

Forecasts with probability distributions. Do not produce analysis that gives a single answer, rather provide a probability of various outcomes.

Dragon #8: Human emotion and bias.

Slayer:  Avoid your own biases and overcome those of others. Remember that argument is about who is right and decision making is about what is right.

Now what? Which of these dragons have you run into and how did you overcome? Share your comments below.

Interested in learning more about agile metrics & measurement? View Larry’s recent webinar, The Eight Dragons of Agile Measurement, here.