8

We have a new way of gauging teams.

All the individuals involved (business owners, managers, stakeholders) except the team itself gauge how they felt the team did using a score. If the score is higher, they performed better and produced more, if it's lower, they didn't. It's a number given at the end of a Sprint, during the Retrospective, about the whole team's output.

Do other companies do this? Is it considered Agile? Can it show real insight?

  • 1
    Why would you ask other depts to subjectively assess scores (of what? timeliness? quality? productivity? whether their own pet issue got implemented?), when your devpt process should already have enough objective metrics to already do that? – smci Jun 3 at 4:33
13

Do other companies do this? Is it considered Agile? Can it show real insight?

No. No. No.

Why not? Because it's completely pointless. You said you have sprints. I guess they have tickets or stories in them. So you already have an objective measurement how you did. 8 of 10 stories done? 95 of 98 story points finished? There you go. Objective measurement. Getting told by management that your performance felt like a "7" this sprint? What is that supposed to mean?

Feedback is important, but since you tagged this retrospective: yes, a retrospective is the way to go. If there are problems or issues, they need to be brought to the table. By anybody who can bring them up, maybe that's a management person. An issue can be discussed, understood and something actionable can be planned to improve. Getting told your sprint was a "7" is in no way actionable. There is no path to "8" other than "better luck next time".

So no, getting rated a number is in no way helpful. It's a process for processes sake, the opposite of open communication, respect and teamwork.

Just out of curiosity, do you get to rate management as well? Ah, forget it, we all know the answer.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Exactly as @nvoigt mentioned what additional objective measurements does this team performance scoring brings to the team? How is the score mapped against the team's output? When you miss your target against the planned delivery (total no of stories or Story Points planned vs completed), you know where you stand. Retro should help us find the root cause and improve the process. In my opinion, I would feel this is just one more layer of adding score (comparing with another measurement) with no value. – Mustaque Ali Jun 3 at 4:28
  • 1
    I've got to agree - if management want to convey their feelings about a sprint to the workers, then just say the words - and give them something to work on for next time if there's something to be changed. – Ralph Bolton Jun 3 at 10:17
  • We don't get to rate management, however what about using the score as an overall gut feel of how the team is producing work? I do see what you mean though we already have everything else to show how well the team did. – User101 Jun 3 at 16:20
  • 3
    We did something similar in our retrospectives where once in a while we would just each put a smiley face, neutral face or frowny face down on a board to see how we felt during the sprint. Because objective measurement is not all. However since this was the start of a retrospective, it was the opener to talking about it. The important part is the "talk about it". I will assume your management is like all management in that it will just drop the number and then say "sorry, I have a meeting, you sort it out for yourselves". – nvoigt Jun 3 at 17:07
  • 2
    "Just out of curiosity, do you get to rate management as well? Ah, forget it, we all know the answer." There are businesses where that's done as a performance metric for the managers. IIRC Amazon might be one of them. – nick012000 Jun 4 at 2:41
14

There is nothing wrong with this type of scoring. This type of customer confidence score is the same general idea as NPS and a multitude of other score. Whether or not it is healthy is largely dependent on how it is used.

First, it is important to understand what this score is and is not. It is a satisfaction score. It tells you about the individual's subjective feeling of contentness or excitement about the results of the sprint. You mention productivity in your question and it is absolutely not this. A productive sprint could be easily marked low because some stakeholder's priorities lost out to another's.

Second, understand what you want to do with it. Satisfying customer needs is very agile, but how will you use this to accomplish that? Is the score specific enough? Does the team understand the feedback in a way that let's them incorporate it into their next sprint? Is the metric consistent with the conversation in the review?

Next, I would be careful to consider if this will be used as an extrinsic reward or penalty. These types of metrics can often work when the metric is inextricably tied to the behavior you want and you are dealing with largely mechanical tasks. This is because they cause people to focus on the metric. However, in cases where narrow focus is counterproductive, this can actually diminish performance and in cases where the metric and result are only loosely coupled, it can lead to severe gaming.

| improve this answer | |
5

Since you ask if this is considered Agile, I'll provide an answer in that direction.

And the answer is "most likely no".

All the individuals involved (business owners, managers, stakeholders) except the team itself gauge how they felt the team did using a score. If the score is higher, they performed better and produced more, if its lower they didn't. It's a number given at the end of a sprint, in retrospective about the whole teams output.

Any Agile team should receive feedback after each Sprint, if not continuously, but the way things are set up here you may have a few problems:

  • it doesn't mention how this helps the team improve. Improve of their work, of the product, or of the way the team interacts with others (business owners, managers, stakeholders);
  • you mention no rules of how this score is calculated. Is this a score based on "feeling"? If I liked what the team did I give a high score, if I don't like it I give a low score? Daniel's answer points out very well (+1) that the team might get a low score just because some stakeholders is unhappy because the priorities were other than what they wanted.
  • it can create the wrong incentives. The team might focus on getting high scores while the actual work suffers. Daniel's answer mentions this too (sorry, I can upvote only once :)). It's the well known saying of "be careful what you measure, you just might get it".
  • it creates a separation between the team and others. Agile is all about collaboration. With this scoring it seems that business owners, managers, stakeholders are not part of what's happening. If things turn out bad it's the team's fault and they get a low score. But what if things go bad because business owners, managers, and stakeholders didn't do their share of things? Do they get a score? They don't. This is not Agile. Everyone needs to pull on the cart. You don't have people pulling on the cart and people sitting in it and then gauge the performance of those who do the pulling.
| improve this answer | |
4

It sounds like an assessment performed by people outside the team. How do you expect that the score will be received by the team members? What is expected from the team when they receive the score?

Is it only a number or will it be accompanied by a motivation (then it could potentially give more insight)?

Who will give the score to the team, how is it presented? It can be hard for the team to interprete the score when it's not face to face communication.

Retrospectives are meant for self-reflection and learning, this way of external gauging and scoring sounds to be in conflict with that.

I think the question should not be if it's agile or not agile. It's about how effective this will be for the team, stakeholders, organization as a whole. I have serious doubts if this works.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.