A month ago I began asking whether it was possible, meaningful or sensible to measure the performance of an agile coach. Herewith a couple of further thoughts on that topic.
Firstly, there’s been some discussion of metrics over on the scrumdevelopment Yahoo group. The original question posed to the group was:
“What metrics do I collect that tell me this agile stuff is actually doing my group any good”
Mary Poppendieck weighed in with three metrics that should be taken together as a package:
- cycle time;
- business case realisation;
- and net promoter score.
Her post goes on to describe these measures in detail, and why they are important. They do seem spot on to me – though I’ve only tried the first for real, and even then with only limited success. It seems to me that there’s a strong case for measuring the coach according to the results of the organisation being coached, and these look to be measures I’d be willing to adopt for myself. But then…
Secondly, I have now finished Value-based Fees: How to Charge and Get What You’re Worth by Alan Weiss, as recommended by Deb. While not about coaching per se, the book does make recommendations as to how a consultant should establish performance measures with his or her clients. Weiss divides measures into quantitative and qualitative. Regarding the former:
“[Y]ou cannot base your contribution on what I call a ‘magic number’. While a 6 percent sales increase might be highly desirable and even, in your opinion, very achievable, it’s never a good idea to peg your success to that magic number. The reason is that there are far too many variables that can affect that number adversely for you to take that risk. […] It is better to state that you will assist in maximising the sales increase.”
And regarding qualitative measures:
“Qualitative measures can be among the most powerful [but] “I’ll know it when I see it” […] is insufficient for a consulting project. In fact, here are the parameters for creating a successful, anecdotal sereies of measures for a project: the buyer himself or herself will judge the result; the effectiveness will rely on observed behaviour and factual evidence; there will be gradations of success, not success or failure; there must be reasonable time limits.”
Weiss goes on to give examples that are very much like the kind of anecdotal measures I’ve been using on my own projects. So now I’m back to where I started! On reflection, I think that’s just fine. Start with something like:
- assist in minimising cycle time;
- assist in maximising business case realisation;
- and assist in maximising net promoter score
and then augment those with any other anecdotal measures that are valuable to the team, manager or organisation I’m working with.
What measures do you use to assess your own performance at work?