July 8, 2006

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Agile Metrics Design - July 6th Feedback

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This Thursday saw another Agile Metrics Design workshop. This is the most interactive of the e-Cademy events, and - as the feedback attests - also one of the most challenging to run and to participate in. I'm grateful to everyone who took part, without whom the event just wouldn't work at all. Agile Metrics Design is all shiny and new and - even after nearly 2 years - still very experiemental, so I am always delighted to get a chance to work with people who approach it with the same sense of play and curiosity.



The whole aim of the Agile Metrics Design workshop is to show people how to run their own Agile Metrics design workshop. I hope that one or two who came on Thursday are going to go back and give the format a try for themselves. No doubt they will adapt and evolve the format, too - which is just what the doctor ordered.

Every album has that one song that some people love and others tend to skip over. This workshop was the e-Cademy's equivalent. A few people loved it. A few obviously didn't get on with it at all. Overall, though, it was okay, and could have been a lot worse without the help of Rachel Davies of Agile Experience, who kindly volunteered to help run the event. A big thank you to Rachel, who is running the workshop at Agile 2006, and - as it should be - will probably make a few adaptations of her own for that audience. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it.



Feedback & Analysis

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1. How would you rate the event on the whole?

GOOD - 60%
AVERAGE - 30%
POOR - 10%

2. How would you rate the material covered?

GOOD - 60%
AVERAGE - 30%
POOR - 10%

3. How would you rate the coach?

GOOD - 80%
AVERAGE - 20%
POOR - 0%

4. How would you rate the venue and location?

GOOD - 30%
AVERAGE - 50%
POOR - 20%

5. Would you come to another parlezuml.com event in the future?

YES - 100%
NO - 0%

6. Would you recommend this event to a friend or colleague?

YES - 80%
NO - 20% (actually, only 10% said definitely not - but we have factored in a couple of "maybe"s)

Then I created a little scoring system, where a GOOD is +1, an AVERAGE is 0, a POOR is -1, a YES is +1 and a NO is -1. The final score looks like this:

39 out of a possible 60 - or 65%

Here are some of the comments:

About the event as a whole:

"Too longer examples... Wanted to cover more, faster!"

"It really set us thinking as to what could be the possible counterpoints we are up against and so define the metric to overcome those"

"Liked the way the technique of Agile metric development was experienced"

"Maybe I had the wrong expectations of the course"

"Overall a very good experience"

"Although a good course, my initial assumption about the workshop was that it concerned metrics for Agile development"

About the material:

"The iteration (design then test) within a workshop setting is sensible"

"Full of surprises. Good metrics design is difficult"

"Ideas were good. Analogies were good"

"Liked the way the material covered customer perspective through to agreed metric"

"Some confusion over choice and classification of perspectives. More examples or explanation?"

"We found it hard to imagine perspectives"

"The material was good but clearer goals for exercises was needed"

"Concepts were good but over-illustrated. A vague outline that relies on specifics to make its point is frustrating"

About the coach:

"Good time-boxing"

"Jason sometimes rushed into exercises without sufficient briefing"

"They did just enough that was needed without being too intrusive"

"Difficult concept to get over, but a great success"

About the venue:

"Inconvenient"

"Too remote!"

"Handy for me"

Proof Of the Pudding

This was another session where we lost nobody during the break, so the rate of attrition was 0% again. More worrying is that - for the first time - some people weren't 100% sure if they'd recommend the event to a colleague, and one was 100% sure he wouldn't!

Summary

There are undoubtedly things about the workshop that need to be improved. One or two participants were helpful enough to offer some practical suggestions along with their feedback, which are all being noted. There are some mixed messages in the feedback, which I'll come back to in a minute, but one thing that comes over loud and clear is that the whole Balanced Scorecard/Perspective thing has got to go! The principle of balancing your metrics is critical, so I will find another way of achieving that which doesn't require people to learn anything new. It's quite probably a step too far for a 2-hour workshop.

The other thing that comes through loud and clear - and this is not just specific to Thursday's session - is that people come with a whole range of - sometimes wildly - different expectations about what Agile Metrics Design is all about and what to expect from the workshop. I think the words "Agile" and "Metric" are possibly to blame - since they come with a tonne of baggage. I don't think there can be any doubt what to expect from the online explanation of the workshop format, since it describes exactly what happens in some detail, but - just as a CD cover can significantly colour one's perception of the music - so too can a workshop title overshadow the description of that workshop. The hunt for a better title begins!

The example metrics design process almost certainly needs to be longer and more clearly defined, though that may have further frustrated those who wanted us to "move on already". It's a difficult tightrope to walk in either direction.

Again, the location doesn't exactly come off soundling like the Savoy - but I've covered that aspect already. On balance, it is a good compromise. My accountant rates it very highly...

There's a marked contrast with the feedback from the earlier Agile Metrics Design sessions, which scored more than 90%. It's slowly dawning on me that this workshop is a bit like Marmite - you either love it or you hate it.For some, the material was difficult and the pace too fast. For others, the concepts were obvious and the workshop was boring. For the few, though, it was bang on the money. I will do what I can to strike a balance between pace and clarity, and the material continues to evolve. No doubt the next time I run a workshop, it will be different again and the feedback will be full of new surprises. This is most definitely not a one-size-fits-all workshop! This will be the last time the workshop is run publicly through parlezuml.com, and my chief lesson to take away from Thursday's workshop is that - when I help clients run their own Agile Metrics design workshops - I get to know the participants first so I can tailor the material and the pace to suit.

And that, indeed, is the whole business of Agility! Onwards and upwards (and sideways
Posted 14 years, 6 months ago on July 8, 2006