agile journeys

...rants by Asheesh Mehdiratta on Transformation and Change

Mission Godspeed or Good Speed ?

Captain Kirk, USS Enterprise, gets a “Godspeed” wish! Lucky chap ! you might say…but for us mortal souls “Good Speed” is what we simply crave for….but then what exactly is a Good Speed (velocity) for your agile mission ? do you know ?

Following the typical sequence for agile projects, we all estimate the story points and get the total size estimate for the project. The team velocity (or the speed) as measured historically allows us to get the number of iterations required and this turns into the project calendar release plans (voila…GM milestone here I come) ..sounds familiar.

But what about the historical velocity ? is my historical velocity good/bad ?

Scott Ambler suggests that measuring the historical velocity itself is not the end. Do Not measure velocity.

Measure the velocity trend line (== acceleration ) !

What is happening in your project ? Does the velocity trend line go up or down for your project?

If your project velocity trend line goes UP then you are in good shape (and have a “Good Speed”) but if the velocity trend line goes down then you need to understand the reasons and retrospect (deeply as Esther Derby remarks).

I think that this observation is important otherwise people can start measuring the velocity ONLY for various teams across the organization at any point and it may not be all fun.

Scott Ambler also suggests that the velocity is “unlikely to be gamed”. But I disagree with Scott on this since the focus on measuring up trending velocity may have it’s pitfalls.

Some of these in my view could lead to the team breaking stories prematurely…adding more in the same iteration and/or shifting the additional story points to a bigger number over subsequent iterations. Beware these shifts !!

Understanding this comparison across multiple projects, both with upward velocity trend lines would need another discussion and I have to get back to Captain Kirk…(oh) Captain Kirk, no offense but I am wishing Chandrayaan Godspeed this time.

2 Comments

  1. hey… nice blog! everything that goes up must come down 🙂
    It could be fun to measure until your team reaches the breaking point. Remember Newton? F = m * a? Its directly proportional to the force cause the mass aint changing… unless we're okay to compromise on quality.

  2. Thanks Rahul for the thumbs up…
    To make sure that the quality is not compromised, the iteration plan could include 'some' slack while making sure that the team repays it's technical debt continuously. ofcourse the acceleration is simply saying UP and not the degree to which it must be skewed and therein lies the answer that you may just tilt it enough to make it go up and not burn out the team to a breaking point.

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