I recently saw some interesting discussions and posts regarding team velocity, metrics, and how to get the most out of a technology team. The original question was about how to increase a team’s velocity. The conversation was interesting & I noticed that people seemed to have somewhat differing takes on how to measure success. Not surprising, since we all have our own perspective and experiences. So, this is my take.
Every team is in search of its own pot of gold (success). The specific terms may be different, but in the end, they all live and die by the value they provide to the parent organization. I recall asking a work associate once what metrics he valued (thinking that we should look at the details). His response was that revenue was his primary concern. My bet is that in almost every organization, you’ll find something similar. It could be profits, growth, or other accomplishments that a good product or service can create.
By taking the perspective that the value is related to the end result, perhaps its best to answer the following questions when considering how well your team (and for that matter, the broader organization) are performing:
- Why? Do your efforts have a discernible and hopefully high value outcome? Building perfect, high quality, useless software is still useless. Are you providing something that makes a positive difference? That difference will probably need to be measured against both the present status-quo and what competitors are building.
- What? The things you are building should be well aligned with the base rationale.
- How? Are you approaching the problems in the best way possible? Are the tools, architecture, and skill levels where they should be? Are you being clear about the measures of quality and completeness as you develop the product. If using agile, is your definition of done appropriate? Are people spending their energy on adding value and minimizing waste?
- Who? Are your people right for the job? Do they have the right training? Can they communicate with one another? Are they enthused about the mission (don’t underestimate the value of belief!)?
Not surprisingly, there are several dimensions to success. If you’re really lucky, some of these fall into your lap. Odds are, that you’ll need to attend to all of these. So, what to do?
In short, invest your time wisely. Understand where your efforts are going to be the most fruitful. That will vary. There’s an argument in the StrengthsQuest philsophy that advocates for not only striving to fix problems, but perhaps more importantly, amplifying one’s (or one’s team’s) strengths.
- build a strong rapport with your team. when you start, as you work, any time you get a chance. Failing to do so will limit their output.
- identify and share your value proposition with the team. Make sure that you and they both “get-it” If they’re having difficulties getting on the same page, figure it out & negotiate common terms.
- Be excellent and demand it of your team. Make sure that they are requiring the same of themselves. Most people will. There’s always more to be gained by a job well-done.
- Maintain balance and transparency. One of the most painful problems I’ve seen (this is getting back to my first point) is energy spent on the wrong things.
There are obviously choices that you’ll want to make. Focus on the areas that will give you and your team the greatest returns. Once done there, find the next batch of opportunities. They never end. You just need to know where to look.