On Thursday I helped out Jason Gorman with an Agile Metrics workshop - see Jason's blog for details.
The basic premise of the workshop is to develop metrics in iterative rounds, using a fail fast and improve cycle. Workshop groups define a simple metric then test it with other groups to see if it can be "gamed" and then present back to their stakeholders so that the metric can be refined appropriately against the gaming strategy.
Some gaming strategies that were used by the teams in the workshop were:
* where no improvement level is set - very slow improvement still satisfies the metric.
* slowing the factor being measured down (for example, if measuring customer satisfaction make it onerous to complain - think outsourced call-centres here).
* where adjectives are used in a metric that have no agreed definition then they may be redefined by the subjects of the metric.
* aggregation - counting different occurences as a single type of occurence.
* reclassification - using more categories for describing a problem to reduce the number counted in any one category (such as the type of problem that is being measured).
It's important that all stakeholders are involved in determining metrics on real-world projects and that metrics should be used for information rather than as project controls. As soon as metrics are made into targets, they are likely to cease being helpful and start skewing project focus and the subject of gaming.
Are you sitting comfortably? then I'll begin. Listening is a vital tool in coaching teams. It's so hard not to jump straight to pattern matching and quick diagnosis, offering alternatives before you hear the whole story. The key is patience and keeping you mouth shut on your opinions. The next step is to show you heard what was said by gently relaying back to check that you heard the story right. After that you need to decide whether to act on what you heard, without breaking the confidence of the person who told you their story.
Thanks to Richard Watt who I caught up with at the Retrospective Facilitator's Gathering in Baden-Baden in April for running a session on Barriers to Effective Listening based on an article by his colleague Michael Webb.