“It was the perfect storm.” “That’s just the way things are here.” “That won’t work for us; we’re too different.” “It’s a catch-22.” “There’s too much history.” If you are hearing these phrases at your organization, chances are it may be suffering from learned helplessness. What is learned helplessness you ask? It’s basically when we have difficulty both identifying and unlearning bad habits. We can no longer see anything as an opportunity for change. We come up with reasons for why something can’t or isn’t working instead of coming up with ways it could work. We (sometimes) unknowingly derail any true progress because of the intrinsic helplessness we feel after being shut down so many times. We just cannot see a way out of this vicious spiral.
I’m going to start off by saying that I know Scrum and metrics don’t necessarily get along. But I will also acknowledge that it’s a necessary evil in most cases. And in a lot of cases it doesn’t have to be evil. Metrics are simply: a method of measuring something. In Scrum, we measure a lot of things. We measure the size of our work items, we measure the effort or time it takes to complete them. We measure our accuracy. All of this is in our quest to become predictable as a team and to improve (and we need to start with a baseline measurement to know if we’ve improved). But when others start taking notice of our metrics, that’s when things get tricky.