Agile Transformation: More Possible Organizational Measurements, Part 5

I've been thinking more about possible measurements in an agile transformation journey. The first Possible Measurements post focuses on product throughput measurements. This post will focus on measurements you might see when the culture changes with an agile transformation.

Again, do start with your why. Without knowing why you want to use agile approaches throughout the organization, you can't generate reasonable measurements.

In this post, I'll address the collaboration measures you might want to consider. (I often use the idea of two coffee cups to prompt my ideas about collaboration.)

Again, what do we want more of and less of? Here are answers many of my clients have suggested:

  • More collaboration within teams
  • More collaboration between teams (the left hand and right hand problem I referred to in the why post)
  • Less work in progress (WIP) due to waiting for other people

I'm going to suggest one more thing: fewer not-so-useful meetings.

Meetings are the bane of everyone's existence. Too many of us are not in charge of our calendars. We run from meeting to meeting with barely a bio break. We waste time and no one in the organization has any idea how much time. (I've been estimating Cost of Delay for some decisions in my clients' meetings, and it's quite depressing. The CoD waiting for decisions outweighs the supposed lateness of the features.)

I like collaboration in the form of people working together to solve problems. I prefer to call these meetings “workshops,” as in:

  • We are workshopping (refining, planning) requirements for the team
  • We are workshopping what we learned over the past day, week or two weeks (retrospective)
  • We are workshopping the product roadmap, the project portfolio, etc.

Each of these meetings/workshops has a possible agenda, which we can send out in advance and requires the necessary people to succeed.

Status meetings? Save me. I've written about the horrors of serial status meetings before. Recently, I wrote about a manager's serial status meeting.

Here are some meeting “measurements” to consider:

  • One-on-ones planned and met
  • Number of meetings that revisited the same decision. (I see this in the project portfolio a lot. The Director-team or the PMO make decisions and the senior managers remake the decisions. The result is whiplash for the teams.)
  • Number of wait-for-decisions at a meeting. This could mean the wrong people are in the meeting, or that they don't have the authority/autonomy to make this decision.
  • Number of meetings planned and actual where we plan to learn and we do learn. This might be Community of Practice meetings, staff meetings where the staff has a backlog of learning, or other learning opportunities, such as book discussion groups.

Yes, these look like quantitative measures but are really qualitative measures. They “measure” the culture. Here are the problems I'm trying to visualize:

  • We need to make the most of our collaboration time. If we can't decide or have the right people in the meeting, let's address that problem first.
  • Waiting for decisions is a form of inventory, WIP. I want to see that.
  • If we are not learning as a community at all levels, we are not mastering our jobs. We might learn about technology (languages, architecture, testing), interpersonal skills, product ideas, and about strategy or customer needs.

Remember, workshopping produces product-based artifacts.  Other meetings might produce decisions.

When you transform your measurements, you can transform your system and culture.

If your agile transformation is stuck, consider rethinking your measurements. Consider the data people need as individuals and as (management) teams working across the organization.

That's one of the reasons Gil Broza and I are offering the Influential Agile Leader workshop again. You might look at your system and current culture and decide to create other measurements to see what you can change. Do join us.

Update: Here are the posts in order:

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