When discussing what's included in any agile-focused consulting service, agile success metrics always come up... and they should! From a customer perspective, it's important to know what you're paying for, and from an agile leader perspective, metrics are a key component for the advancement and growth of your organization's agile objectives.
But success metrics aren't a one-size-fits-all notion. There is no canned slide deck, no magical spreadsheet of formulas on the shelf, no special membership required to access the vault of agile metrics for success.
Instead, we recommend that you ensure that metrics stem from a foundation of a clearly defined and agreed-upon vision of success, and a culture of transparency and learning. This way, metrics become indicators of how far off a team is from that vision of success, and can be used to determine the improvements that move the team in the right direction.
Simple, right? Yes... but simple does not mean easy.
A clearly defined and agreed-upon vision of success is no doubt your starting point. Ideally, this is coming from leaders in the organization, such as your lean agile center of excellence and/or other leaders championing your agile initiatives. Be as clear as possible, even if it means distilling the vision down to something like "take actions on our retrospectives."
A culture of transparency and learning becomes possible when there is room for mistakes. Mistakes are one of the best inputs for learning, especially when they are identified as and managed as such. When learning—instead of perfection—is the goal, teams are more willing to be measured, and therefore the information available for making decisions improves.
If you find yourself in a situation where metrics are being used for reasons other than those mentioned above, consider this an indicator that you're off track toward your target and then make adjustments. It's never too late to realign to your vision.
For more information on agile success metrics, consider joining Isos' Principal Agilist Ann Kahraman and me at Agile Arizona 2021. We're leading a session titled "Are We Getting Anywhere with This Agile Thing? How to Tell If Your Agile Transformation Is Working." If you're an agile expert or enthusiast, you won't want to miss it!