agile metrics

What Metrics Will My Team Find Useful?

Let’s try something different today.  I’d like to tell you a story.  To do it justice, I won’t write about it.  Instead, I’ll share a video where I told this story to an agile group here in Silicon Valley, and it began as I wrestled with several questions:
  1. Can data help our teams improve?  If so, what kind of data?
  2. How do we responsibly use this data?
  3. Can metrics help the teams and the organization embrace a culture of experimentation?
  4. Data isn’t enough.  How can we tie it to the motivations and passions of our team members?
In the video below, I share my experiences as I attempt to answer these questions while I worked with the teams at  However, before we begin, I want to mention a few things:

  • I owe a debt of gratitude to Troy Magennis for inspiring this journey.  Thank you, Troy.
  • I recorded this talk with the Silicon Valley Agile Leadership Network (SVALN).  If you’re in the Valley and not part of our group, I encourage you to join.
  • Click on the embedded video at the bottom to watch it straight through or click ‘watch’ from the table below, which will open a new tab at the proper time stamp.
  • Unfortunately, it’s hard to hear questions from the group.  In retrospect, I should have had a mic roaming the crowd.
  • For a copy of the slide deck, click here.
0:00Who am I?watch
2:12Is there a relationship between leading Marines and agility?watch
5:41What metric matters most?watch
7:41Why is frequent delivery of our product so important?watch
9:50Where did our story about metrics begin?watch
12:30What are attributes of good and bad metrics? What did we hope to achieve?watch
15:05What metrics are our teams using? watch
32:04How are these metrics foster a culture of experimentation?watch
35:45What have we learned?watch
40:55Where did we go wrong? What's up next?watch
43:03Final thoughts, question & answerwatch

That’s all for today. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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6 thoughts on “What Metrics Will My Team Find Useful?”

  1. Great article / video, Tanner, thanks for sharing. I can certainly see the similarities between these metrics and what Troy uses. I really like Troy’s Agile Dashboard and have automated the extraction of that data from Jira for my team

  2. Terrific topic Tanner! I can’t wait to watch the videos and learn something.

    I just started an experiment around this as I believe my teams may have bumped on a ceiling and want them to crash through it. I hope to write about it at my company’s blog once over if there is learning that could help others. My approach is slightly different in that I am trying to help the team do a “self-assessment” with some information I supply with their help before their retro. It consists of an anonymous survey around behaviors and happiness and some relevant sprint data similar to what I saw here in reading your slides.

  3. Good question Tanner. Two reasons. First, I am wary that people won’t really come clean on the question around their true happiness working within the team knowing if it is low, there could be scrutiny. I have seen this in previous teams where everyone says they are happy and then I see them taking another job 🙂 The second reason is that I had been using “team morale” survey by Christiaan Verwijs that was anonymous and teams are used to that. I have been going back and forth on asking for the survey to have names attached as I am giving the results directly back to just the team – no agile managers or stakeholders. Thanks for getting me to reflect more on this as I am going to ask the team if we can remove anonymity. In my 1-1s with them they have said the teams has established high level of safety and maybe it is time to put it to the test.

    1. Artificial harmony. I’m aware of the phenomenon. I think it’s wise that you’re sharing this data only with the team. Still, if I’d feared that someone wasn’t willing to speak at least marginally openly about their perspectives, I’d figure out why and focus my attention there. After all, without such safety, what is it we’re not talking about–but should–at our retros? Have you considered giving them one last anonymous survey that asked one question:

      If you were asked [whatever question] would you have reservations about having your name attached to your answer?

      If you get at least one ‘yes,’ ask the team if that person is willing to speak to you privately. If you’ve developed the right relationships, this person should be willing to speak about why in a one on one conversation. Another option could be running a safety check at your next retro:

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