Musings about Team Dynamics

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In previous posts, we discussed what you can learn about your team from tracking a minimum of data. We introduced throughput as the most meaningful metric you can get from only the completion time of a work item. In a subsequent post, we explained how you can calculate cycle time and work in progress by tracking the start time of a work item. In this post, we focus solely on how to calculate failure demand and what it tells you about the true delivery capacity of your team.

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Continuous improvement is at the heart of any agile approach. But where do we start? And how can we know that our improvement initiatives are moving the needle? This blog post expands on the ideas from what throughput can tell you about your team and provides some additional thoughts to help you truly embrace the following principle from the agile manifesto:

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.


Well-designed metrics provide your team with insight into where to focus and look for improvement opportunities. They also provide you with a baseline, a measuring stick to assess any improvements.

In a previous post, I focused on what we can learn from a metric as simple as throughput. Here we take it a step further.

As health specialists and governments encourage employees to work from home en masse, many employers start fearing the impact on their teams’ productivity. After all, the agile manifesto states as one of its principles:

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

Are we doomed to return to less agile ways of working? Will we see productivity plummet? Will we see new value being released only ever so often?

Online teams are less effective than collocated teams

Let’s first start with this breaking down this statement.

The main difference between online (or remote) and collocated teams is the way in which they communicate. Collocated teams benefit from what Alistair Cockburn calls osmotic communication. You could explain it as transfer of information and knowledge by virtue of being in physical proximity with your team, where all work is done, where all frustrations are voiced and all intentional and unintenti...

Last Friday I presented a session on outcome based metrics at the Lean Agile Network meetup in Toronto. Based on the popularity of the session and the questions which we didn’t have the time to address, the topic is clearly on many people’s mind. More to come on metrics in future posts, but for now we’ll focus on what you can learn from the simplest metric of them all: throughput.

Be the change

June 13, 2019

In context of our attendance at Collision last month, we published a quick survey to validate some of our assumptions about Socrates. While the survey is still open for everyone to provide us with feedback, this post summarizes the results of the first respondents.

Last year I was invited to help the Queen’s Hyperloop Design Team improve their chances in the SpaceX competition. They had just been informed that they did not make it into the last round of the competition, so we focused on setting up the team for success going forward.

Making every team thrive

October 16, 2018

As soon as the sun first rises above the horizon in Springtime and melts the accumulated snow and ice, high in the Canadian arctic on Baffin Island, the arctic poppy hangs on to every ray of light it can grab and livening up the rocks it grows in between and on top of. When the sun no longer disappears during midsummer nights, its stem rotates the full 360° so that the flower maximizes the benefits from the scarce warmth and light it needs to grow. The circumstances in the high arctic are harsh such that very few plants or animals can survive. Yet, the delicate arctic poppy has found a way to thrive there.

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