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Agile Metrics – Velocity is Not the Goal

World Trade Center
121 SW Salmon
Portland, Oregon 97204, US (map)


Rose City SPIN Presentation in partnership with PNSQC

Agile Metrics – Velocity is Not the Goal

Michael “Doc” Norton, LeanDog

Velocity is one of the most common metrics used—and one of the most commonly misused—on agile projects. Velocity is simply a measurement of speed in a given direction—the rate at which a team is delivering toward a product release. As with a vehicle en route to a particular destination, increasing the speed may appear to ensure a timely arrival. However, that assumption is dangerous because it ignores the risks with higher speeds. And while it’s easy to increase a vehicle’s speed, where exactly is the accelerator on a software team? Michael “Doc” Norton walks us through the Hawthorne Effect and Goodhart’s Law to explain why setting goals for velocity can actually hurt a project’s chances of success. Take a look at what can negatively impact velocity, ways to stabilize fluctuating velocity, and methods to improve velocity without the risks. Leave with a toolkit of additional metrics that, coupled with velocity, give a better view of the project’s overall health.

A promoter and practitioner of agile since 1999, Michael “Doc” Norton (@DocOnDev) is an agile coach and a partner with LeanDog. Doc’s twenty-plus years of software development have provided him with experience on a wide range of topics. As a member of LeanDog, living in Wadsworth, OH, Doc provides coaching, mentoring, training, and delivery in agile/XP/lean software development techniques. Doc is immediately suspicious of anyone who declares expertise in a single programming language or methodology. He is passionate about helping others become better developers, working with teams to improve delivery, and emphasizing software craftsmanship.

About Rose City SPIN

The Rose City Software Process Improvement Network (SPIN) is a monthly forum for networking, mutual support, and promotion of effective software practices. We exchange practical experiences, ideas, knowledge, wisdom, and war stories about the technical, business, and human facets of software process improvement. The Rose City SPIN serves the software development community of the Portland/Vancouver metro area. Whether you work for a large company or a small one, corporate or self-employed, industrial or academic setting, you are welcome at the Rose City SPIN. Monthly seminars are sponsored by the Rose City SPIN and the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference.


PNSQC is the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference, a group of volunteers interested in Software Quality. The Mission of the PNSQC is to enable knowledge exchange to produce higher quality software. As a non-profit, it seeks to promote software quality by providing education and opportunities for information exchange within the software community.