Saturday, July 10, 2021

Are We Doing Well?

Elisabeth Hendrickson was on The Confident Commit podcast recently talking about systems and flow, and her new Curious Duck project. Towards the end she was asked a question about individuals, teams, and judging success. Her answer was simply super:

The team has to be the agent of work. There are many reasons for this but it's a key tenet for me in leading any organisation. If the team is the agent of work then what that means is the individuals absolutely contribute to it and deserve to have growth paths and career paths and be rewarded for their contributions, etc. So individuals matter very much.

However if somebody decides to go on a four-week vacation to Bali, work cannot stop on the whatever-it-was, they can't be the single point of failure. So if you have the team as the agent of work, the team can swarm on things, the team can have a set of working agreements internally for how they're going to accomplish things. There's plenty of space for the individual but that is a key tenet.

How does the team know that they are doing well? Getting to that point where you actually can deliver value is absolutely essential. 

It can feel like we're going really really fast: "we're doing all this work, we've delivered all these things on our feature branch, we haven't merged them. We've delivered all these things, isn't this great?" 

No, because nobody can get any value from that. The value is locked up in this feature branch and there's more work to do before you can actually ship it.

So I go all the way back to, I think it was, Ron Jeffries who talked about running tested features. You know that you're doing well when you can point to a way in which the external world is somehow different, that we have delivered real business value; we have running, tested features as a result of the work that the team is delivering. 

That is the best measure I know of success. Of course it has to be also tempered with "at a sustainable pace," so: 

A continuous stream of value, at a sustainable pace, and while adapting to the changing needs of the business. 

If you have all of those components then the team is doing well. And if the final result isn't meeting the business's needs then that's probably not the team not doing well. That's probably something else about product-market fit or strategic intent within the business.

1 comment:

  1. curated in the #16th issue of Software Testing Notes.