9th March 2017

“I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of Science, whatever the matter may be.” Lord Kelvin, 1883

Why do some teams seem to struggle, whereas others seem to be able to deliver without impediment?   The reasons for differing levels of performance will be just as varied as the personalities or technologies involved. Be it; technical debt, organisational or team dynamics, hidden complexities in the domain or unrealistic expectations of ill-defined goals.  A blend of these and many other factors will be at play affecting a team’s output.  The usual mechanisms for discovering these will be through a variety of initiatives both local and external to the team. Team Retrospectives, Sprint Reviews, Squad Health Checks all aim to address the issues that teams are witnessing by means of defining tasks for subsequent iterations. Challenges will be identified that are both internal and external. However, dependent on the dynamics and structure of the organisation the approaches will bring varying levels of success.

At MagenTys, one of the supporting tools we are using to help with this problem is a set of theme-based radars, covering areas such as; DevOps, Team Health, Agility,  SAFe, Lean and more. Developed then refined with expert input from industry thought leaders and practitioners, the aim is to facilitate a conversation in a language that is both domain and product agnostic. The radar takes the format of a set of questions that are rated, commented on and discussed through a face-to-face facilitated session. Here the facilitator lock steps through the questions with the team. Maintaining a neutral position, on completion, they will promote and chair discussion. This is based on the evaluation of the answers and has many perspectives such as; comments, competencies and points of high and low consensus to draw on. The outcome from each session is a set of longer term growth objectives than those usually acquired from a sprint retrospective or similar discussion.

The tool offers a concise visual representation of team opinion. By provoking discussion around themes where consensus is low it will provide value to individual teams. However, the real advantage comes when the data is compared to the other team’s data sets and growth items. This is supported in the tool via an aggregated view.  Using the aggregations it is possible to gain insight into the organisation based on products, departments, roles plus tags you wish to set. By slicing and dicing the data it is possible to visualise any partitions of opinion from any identified group. This powerful data analysis capability allows leaders to view an entire organisation from a variety of differing perspectives. Giving rise to focused discovery and shared initiatives for change.

Wherever you may sit in an organisation, the radar view in aggregation, or of a single team has the power to open a closed mind and is a great way to initiate a measured change. This is vital to an organisation of any size given that “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it” -Lord Kelvin.

Contact us today to find out more on how an Agility health assessment can help you and your team today!

[1] https://labs.spotify.com/2014/09/16/squad-health-check-model/[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevemeyer/2014/06/12/persuasion-fascinating-study-shows-how-to-open-a-closed-mind/#15159e6d695b

About Kayleigh Tiernan
Marketing Executive at MagenTys