The Sirens Song of Measurement

Like the Siren song that caused sailors wreck their ships on the rocks, the call to measure agile team velocity calls to managers and executives.

Scrum teams often track their velocity, an average of the total story points delivered in past sprints. As teams improve, velocity typically increases. And, mature teams typically don’t have erratic velocities.

Management believes that if a stable, predictable velocity with an upward trend over time is good, we should set a target and boundaries for what “good” velocity is. Track it, and make a dashboard of it.

But here’s the problem: if you start showing team velocities, side-by-side, and coloring them as red/yellow/green, there is no longer emotional safety. Any scrum team with half a brain will figure out how to make that status report look good. And, that often creates artificial, useless, harmful, behaviors.

But, here’s the rub. In the absence of other information, management wants to measure SOMETHING!

Forget about measuring and comparing velocities at a leadership level, and find ways to determine, and measure:
1. How will we Know if we built the right thing?
2. How will we Know if we built it right?

Measure those things, and forget about holding teams to a particular velocity expectation.

What do you think? Do you have ways to measure delivering the right thing, or whether it was built right? Please share.


Photo and Model Credits
Model/Editor/Stylist/MUA: Ghost Siren
Photographer: Elizabeth Stemmler
Photographer Elizabeth Stemmler on Facebook
Original Image Source

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