When it comes to measurement, context counts. What are we hoping to improve? Quality? Time to market? Staff morale? Customer satisfaction? Combinations thereof? Every person, team, and organization has their own improvement priorities, and their own ways of working, so they will have their own set of measures that they gather to provide insight into how they’re doing and, more importantly, how to proceed. And these measures evolve over time as their situation and priorities evolve. The implication is that our measurement strategy must be flexible and fit for purpose, and it will vary across teams. The Govern Team process goal provides several strategies, including goal question metric (GQM) and objectives and key results (OKRs), that promote context-driven metrics.
Metrics should be used by a team to provide insights into how they work and provide visibility to senior leadership to govern the team effectively. When done right, metrics will lead to better decisions, which in turn will lead to better outcomes. When done wrong, our measurement strategy will increase the bureaucracy faced by the team, will be a drag on their productivity, and will provide inaccurate information to whomever is trying to govern the team. Here are several heuristics to consider when deciding on the approach to measuring our team:
- Start with outcomes.
- Measure what is directly related to delivering value.
- There is no “one way” to measure; teams need fit-for-purpose metrics.
- Every metric has strengths and weaknesses.
- Use metrics to motivate, not to compare.
- We get what we measure.
- Teams use metrics to self-organize.
- Measure outcomes at the team level.
- Each team needs a unique set of metrics.
- Measure to improve; we need to measure our pain so we can see our gain.
- Have common metric categories across teams, not common metrics.
- Trust but verify.
- Don’t manage to the metrics.
- Automate wherever possible to make the metrics ungameable.
- Prefer trends over scalars.
- Prefer leading over trailing metrics.
- Prefer pull over push.