Two Motivational Metrics for Agile Teams

In general, an organization should have one metric that is used to measure success. However, along the way, it may be useful to temporarily use other metrics to help motivate, track, or predict work. Here are two metrics that can be used in this temporary manner for Agile Work.

Time to Obstacle Removal

TTOR = sum of calendar time elapsed for all unresolved obstacles divided by number of unresolved obstacles

Why Use TTOR: the team, process owner and product owner need to work hard to remove obstacles quickly. This metric tracks how well this is going.

When Use TTOR: use this only when people and the organization are not driven to remove obstacles. This metric can be tied to bonuses and/or compensation in order to give it teeth. Do not measure individuals with this metric. It is only applicable at the team level or higher (e.g. program or division level).

When to Stop Using TTOR: When TTOR has been reduced to less than the time between status meetings (usually one day), then the organization is doing well and this metric should be discontinued.

Obstacles Removed per Iteration

OR/I = number of obstacles closed as removed (not ignored or deferred) in a single iteration

Why Use OR/I: this is a “game” metric or score that encourages large numbers of obstacles to be identified and removed. The more obstacles removed in an organization or team context, the faster the work can be done.

When Use OR/I: if a team is not identifying obstacles in the status meetings, consider implementing this metric to encourage obstacle identification… and critically… resolution. This metric is for team use only.

When to Stop Using OR/I: this metric stops being useful if team members are spending time concocting obstacles that are trivial or worse, deliberately creating obstacles to be resolved. The Process Facilitator needs to be sensitive to these potential pitfalls of this metric. Once the team is consistently identifying one or two obstacles per status meeting, and they are getting resolved in equal quantity, this metric must be discontinued.

A Word of Caution: there is no substitute for a . These two metrics are contextual and temporary. Do not use them if they are not indicated by the circumstances and be sure to discontinue use when symptoms disappear.

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