Library Spotlight: Using Team Data and Insights to Surface Patterns Preventing Better Business Outcomes

By: Michael S. McCalla, Lean Agile Intelligence Inc.

Having grown up as BA, I have always gravitated towards data because I enjoy identifying patterns to tell a story. I am also a passionate Agilist, playing the role of change agent in Agile Transformations. Therefore, my natural inclination has always been to couple the two together to drive change.

A few summers ago, I was lucky enough to land an engagement with an organization that valued people, outcomes, and customers.  Needless to say the culture was very “Agile!” However, like most great companies, they were never satisfied. They felt their growth had stalled.  They hired a few Agile coaches with the hope that we can assist them in getting to the next level of Agility! The goal of the engagement was to identify organizational constraint patterns preventing them from optimizing business outcomes.

The environment was one of safety and trust so we knew data would be our ally. We were confident that it would be reliable and actionable.  Our mission as an Agile Practice was to create a direct feedback channel from those doing the work to those making decisions. We collected multiple data points from teams, including self-assessments, happiness, and impediments.

Our Agile Practice took self-assessments to the next level! This was not about an audit, but rather an exercise in which we can all learn from the results, identify improvement areas, and measure the outcomes. We created an improvement and measurement model that leveraged self-assessments as a data gathering technique, and used it at every level of the organization. The model included four steps; understand the team’s strategic objectives, self-assess on the practices that will help achieve them, identify tactical improvement goals, and measure whether or not the improvement efforts are impacting the outcome.

Figure 1 – Improvement and Measurement Model

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