Systems Thinking29

Debating Agile and Metrics

AgileAmped Podcast

Leslie Morse, Zach Bonaker, Jason Kerney

January 25, 2020



“There’s no silver bullet – no way that’s going to work for all the measurement scenarios that companies want.” So says Jason Kerney, an Agile technical coach, and one of our guests in this podcast. Our other guest is self-described “benevolent trouble-maker” Zach Bonaker – and the two shared an enticing setup for a debate that the pair later performed at Agile2019: using three typical scenarios to argue the (de)merits of different types of metrics.

Kerney and Bonaker give examples of long-lived, complex and sometimes difficult-to-measure success metrics – like customer loyalty and organizational effectiveness – and narrower-scoped improvement metrics that expire and should be replaced to suit the needs of the business – such as feature engagement and production lead time, respectively.

Bonaker also corrects a long-standing misuse of a well-known quote by W. Edward Deming, which goes, “It is wrong to assume that, if it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed.” Our two guests advise listeners to look at the system as a whole and avoid sub-optimization.

Accenture | SolutionsIQ’s Leslie Morse hosts at Agile2019 in Washington, D.C.

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