I was really disappointed when the Golden State Warriors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers months ago in the NBA championships. The Cavaliers won, but it was obvious who carried them to the championship. And it’s obvious that he gets paid more than others, just as it’s obvious that there’s a huge difference between his numbers and those of other players on his and other teams. As Americans, we love sports and we know that there has to be winners and losers. That’s part of what we love – rooting for the winning team and sharing our sorrows if we support the losing team while hoping for a better season next year.football-single_GyLw7kwu_L

As kids, we grow up playing little league baseball, football or soccer. Some of us get to play if we’ve shown that we have the skills, while others sit on the sidelines until the game is either won or lost. In high school, I was on the cross country team. I wasn’t the fastest nor the slowest. I knew that and accepted that others had more natural running talent than me. I took consolation knowing that maybe I could beat them in math (haha). Unfortunately, math doesn’t help a cross country team. And that brings me to evaluating Agile teams. Each team member has certain skills. They don’t all share the same skills, nor do the skills they have provide the same value. Being good at juggling won’t help an Agile team but being a great critical thinker or troubleshooter might be of use. So why is it that when we bring up measurements and metrics for Agile teams, everyone stays away from individual measurement?

In sports, everyone plays different positions and makes different salaries based on their position and skills. A quarterback generally makes more than a linebacker. Likewise, Tom Brady makes more money than Michael Vick. Everyone knows it and they accept it. His numbers are better and his team wins. His teammates also know he makes more money than they do. However, for some reason, when it comes to evaluating Agile teams, I tend to hear only about measuring the team’s overall success. Well, how do you put together a good team without knowing the true value of highly performing individuals like Tom Brady?

Issues With Individual Measurements Versus Team Measurements

  1. Measurement is not so easy for individuals on an Agile team, and manipulation and inaccuracy are feared.
  2. We live in a world where we want things to be fair and fight the fact that they just aren’t.
  3. We want to think that all men are created equal but they just aren’t, even under the law, and we don’t like that.

How can we see what happens in Agile as simply as baseball or football, where we can measure how many yards were gained or how many strikes were thrown? I think that is the biggest challenge in evaluating Agile teams – figuring out the metrics not just for the team, but for each player’s contribution to the win. It’s plain and simple that every team will have high performers who make a larger impact on the team’s performance and success. Shouldn’t they be paid more, and would the other team members be mad or jealous if they found out? If there was a Tom Brady of software development and he was on your team, and you knew he made 10 times as much money as you, would you think it was unfair?

How can we create an Agile team evaluation system that acknowledges individual contribution yet still motivates the team to win as a whole?