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Measure What Matters

This meetup turned into a conversation guided by a coach. Yes, we showed metrics, yes, we took a look at some charts, but the main point of this session was to drive an exchange of ideas, experiences, and learnings about the real values metrics can actually deliver. That being said, there are a good number of questions asked here and some answers too.

Two questions: What Matters and to Whom?

When talking about metrics, Coach Arthur Zigman asks these crucial questions. What is worth measuring? And to whom are we showing this information? Often, staff members get involved in many meetings to agree on the metrics they will use. Then, the effort is put into preparing slides and documents that end up somewhere in a dashboard to ultimately be forgotten by management.

So, at the end of the day, was it valuable? Did this awful amount of work bring positive outcomes to the teams or even the management level? To these questions, coach Art remarked, “If you can’t show how and when these will be used, don’t bother.”

One final note to this introductory part of the meetup, when facing the number of metrics to consider doing, a good tip coach Art put in the table for discussion, “If you need more than 4 or 5, you’ve got too many, and it’s probably not worth it.”

Team’s Metric, Management, or Both?

Should metrics be restricted to the team? Or should they be shared with the management? When talking about how could a team or an organization make this decision, Coach Art took the different charts there are to measure different aspects and talked about their usability to the team and to the management. The ones he picked for this engaging talk were:

  • Burndown chart

  • Velocity charts

  • Cumulative flow

  • Lean Time

  • Lean Cycle

In this brief meetup article, we will touch on the Burn Down chart only.

Burn Down Chart is a Team’s metric! Management, hands-off! This was the comment coach Art used to illustrate his opinion on whether this metric is useful, and who should use it. Also, to better understand how to use this tool effectively to the team, Coach Rick Regueira discussed the story the Burndown chart also shows. He stated, “the Burndown chart reflects the complexity of the story the team is doing during this sprint, there lies the value”. This is a tool to analyze the team, to propose new experiments, and see how they react to them, it’s a means to an end: continuous learning.

In short, this metric is for the teams to improve, as it provides a closer look at the team’s work. The Burndown Chart can respond to the questions:

  • What's the team doing?

  • What’s the architecture of the organization?

  • What is the team actually capable of doing in terms of empowerment?

  • Is the team just developing and testing?

One could argue there’s limited value in the chart, but here’s another closer look: this chart can tell you when someone outside the Scrum team is sneaking stories (scope creep) into the sprint. This is an external factor that affects the teams’ progress, and it’s a red flag of which the Scrum Master needs to be aware.

Interested in the discussions that were had about the management favorite metric: Velocity? Or the sometimes-misunderstood cumulative flow? Don’t miss out on the full recording of the meetup event and check out the final touch on what coach Art called “broader metric: Lean Time and Cycle Time”.

Key topics:

  • Two questions: What Matters and to Whom?

  • Team’s Metric, Management, or Both?

  • Burndown chart

  • Velocity charts

  • Cumulative flow

  • Lean Time

  • Lean Cycle

Watch the full meeting here



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