Accelerate Or Drag Your Organization?

 In Software 4.0

The old saying, “You are what you eat,” or is it, “You are what you measure?” Life is just too confusing sometimes! The point is every organization needs to have an understanding where they are. They must derive a sense of; are they improving and heading toward their goals. A colleague, Mark Hatfield and  I were talking about value based measurements and he inspired me to capture it in this blog.

Value Based Measurements

The enduring question, what should an organization measure? The answer is not so much on what to measure but the why behind the measurement. It starts with the awareness related to how will the measurement affect your people and organization. The measurement should be “values based,” that is connected to your organizations value system; which directly connects to your people, suppliers and customers. Here is a blog on value based organization.

As a starting point Jurgen Appelo documents twelve rules of good metrics in his book #Workout[1].

Twelve Rules of Good Metrics

  1. Measure for purpose
  2. Shrink the unknown
  3. Seek to improve
  4. Delight all stakeholders
  5. Distrust all numbers
  6. Set imprecise targets
  7. Own your metrics
  8. Do not connect metrics to rewards
  9. Promote values and transparency
  10. Visualize and humanize
  11. Measure early and often
  12. Try something else

The twelve rules are too much to document in more detail here and their description can be counterintuitive, therefore I recommend reviewing his book.

What Drives Your Business

In summary, measure what drives your business, get as close to your customers as possible and discount departmental or team focus.

Measurements should be viewed through Jurgen’s twelve rules and be grounded in the Agile Principles[2]. Make your life simple and look for things to measure where the collection of data is easy or already exists. Be aware that everything that is measurable is open to being gamed if incentives are related to the measurement.


Only measure when value is derived from the measurement, the value is not about the measurement but what can be learned from the measurement. Do not measure stages of a lifecycle but the flow through the full lifecycle. Focus on outcome not output when constructing metrics. Measure to catch people doing good not doing bad.


Measure meaningful things, “You are what you eat and you are what you measure,” might be missing the point!  Last but not least have fun.

[1] Jurgen Appelo, #Workout, Happy Melly Express, The Netherlands, October 2014, pp. 278-294.

[2] Manifesto for Agile Software Development with the Agile Principles of behavior,

– Tim Bertheau


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