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To Be Agile, Establish Team Metrics Not Individual Ones

One of the points in my article, “10 Tips for Succeeding with Enterprise Agile Development”, is to focus on teams not individuals. Many firms have a difficult time with this concept.

Large enterprises go to great lengths to manage individual performance — setting personal goals, rating staff members, tracking distribution curves, conducting annual reviews, creating lengthy forms…lots of forms. Yet, teams deliver successful enterprise outcomes, not individuals.

Want to be more agile? Establish team-based metrics. Measure team productivity not individual performance. Hold individuals accountable for supporting their teams.

In my post, “If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Be Agile”, I outlined a number of metrics that can be used to measure agile team performance. You can’t measure everything — nor should you try — but you can define and measure what matters.

Needs will change over time and so will what must be measured. Retrospective meetings will uncover areas in need of improvement and metrics can be established to help make changes and track the effects. In the process, old metrics should be retired to avoid collecting too much data and causing needless confusion.

You can argue that teams are composed of individuals and every person on a team must meet their obligations in order for the team to succeed. That’s true, which is why you need to be clear about individual roles and responsibilities. Everyone needs to know what is expected of them and what the rules are.

Some simple rules to consider are ones like:

  • The daily stand-up starts at 11:00am. Don’t be late.
  • Software must meet the “definition of done” before it can be considered complete.
  • When you learn something new, share it.

Individual goals must be tactical ones that support the team so that teamwork is encouraged. Everyone needs to feel that the path to personal success lies in making the team successful.

Isn’t it time to retire the annual performance review? It’s a throw-back to days gone by when individual heroics were valued more than team outcomes. It’s time to move on.

Updated: February 5, 2012 — 10:31 pm

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