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#summit-stories
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2023-11-22
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Julia Harrison13:11:05

My biggest challenge with metrics like lead time is I see them as a diagnostic tool - if something doesn't look great in the numbers, it points to a place we need to figure out what's going on and what we can improve. It's like the oil light on my car dashboard. It's a signal to go check the oil. (And if it comes on the next day after I've topped up, I need to apply some curiosity about what's going on.) I've met teams who fear that if the number isn't "right" they'll be seen as underperforming/failing. Which to me would make as much sense as shouting at my car because I didn't put enough oil in. Even in places with apparently healthy culture, I've found that fear hard to shift. So sometimes engineering managers at the team level get competitive about some specific metric with other teams (they don't want to be "worst") which if it's from a sincere desire to improve, great. But it can translate into behaviours that don't really improve anything at all. (Like, there's more than one way to make sure the oil light never comes on, and not all of them indicate anything about the health of the engine.) I do believe deployment frequency and lead time to change are useful diagnostic indicators. I'm curious about whether anyone else has had these challenges of how to 'land' their true purpose at team level and how you've overcome misunderstandings that lead to numbers being gamed.

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Jim Moverley16:11:45

100% agree @mail832 - @nicolefv - accelerate appendix A 😄 As i've seen and continue to see with the folks I see day in / out - there is still sadly a mentally that implementing the thing will achieve the outcome - @jonathansmart1 mentions "cargo cult" unless you know WHY you are doing something.. stop! + its an instant red flag to me when I see management using metrics to motivate (or even worse punish).. its more common than we care to realise! 😞

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Jim Moverley17:11:54

sheesh cant type today.. full of lurgy delivered back via the kids 😄

Julia Harrison17:11:42

I’ve seen the senior management layer get it (but then I would say that, that’s my layer, if my peers aren’t there yet then I need to work harder to bring them on board 😇 ) only for it fall apart at team level. With the best intentions, engineering leads or equivalent (so IMO the most influential on what actually happens) thinking the best way to look after their team is make sure the dashboard is always green, or that they’re always one of the “top performers”, by whatever means. E.g. using creative accounting to close tickets before they reach a certain age.

Jennifer Riggins12:12:47

@mail832 that’s exactly it! just like OKRs, DORA aren’t being communicated all the way down and that leaves engineers too separated from the business objectives… and i’d venture to say that’s the business side’s fault?

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Steve Pereira - Visible Value Stream Consulting20:12:20

I think this is one of the reasons value trumps flow. Results are ultimately what matters, and people would rather wait for value than get garbage quickly (unless we’re talking vices 😅 )

Jennifer Riggins09:12:43

@steveelsewhere IF engineering is talking to business. otherwise business tends to push push push for speed without an insight into the why

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Jim Moverley10:12:42

Culture alert!! 🙂

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