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5 Kinds of Agile bandits: Say/Do Metrics Bandits

January 15, 2024

The Illusion of Precision: Debunking Agile Banditry in Say-Do Metrics

Starting from the basics, let's understand what say-do metrics really entail. They are a comparison between what team members say they will do and what they actually achieve. While this sounds straightforward and effective, the reality is far more complex. Say-do metrics can be a double-edged sword. On one side, they offer a seemingly clear measure of progress and accountability. On the other, they can lead to a culture of misrepresentation and pressure, where teams feel compelled to meet targets at the cost of quality and honesty.

One example I encountered vividly illustrates this conundrum. I once worked with an organisation where the PMO presented metrics that were manipulated to align with expected outcomes. This practice of creating 'vanity metrics' was not just a betrayal of agile principles but also a glaring red flag for decision-making based on inaccurate data. This organisation, driven by the fear of leadership's reaction to the real numbers, chose to paint a rosier picture than the reality.

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As we delve deeper, we realise that the crux of the issue lies in the focus on outputs rather than outcomes. Agile, in its true essence, is about delivering value and not just meeting pre-set targets. The illusion of precision that say-do metrics create can overshadow the importance of delivering work that truly matters. This misalignment can lead to decisions that do not serve the long-term goals of the organisation.

In summary, say-do metrics, when misused, can foster a culture that values appearance over substance. They can lead to decisions made on the basis of incomplete or inaccurate data, which can be detrimental to the long-term success of agile projects. It's crucial to approach these metrics with a critical eye and focus on what truly adds value to the organisation.

Key Topics:

  1. Understanding Say-Do Metrics
  2. The Double-Edged Sword of Say-Do Metrics
  3. The Dangers of Vanity Metrics
  4. Focusing on Outcomes Over Outputs
  5. The True Essence of Agile

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