Lately I have been thinking about ways to measure and gauge the health and quality of a software development environment/team.¬† I am wrapping my head around the key components, and need to find ways to articulate these to non-developers.¬† Well, today I came up with an interesting analogy based on the study of motion known as kinematics.¬† It probably won’t help non-developers understand, but I did find it amusing.¬† The analogy goes like this, and hopefully you vaguely remember high school physics.
Three main measurable ingredients of a healthy development team/environment¬† are:
- speed: The rate at which we get things done.¬† Or a better term would be pace.¬† Are things moving so slowly that no progress is being made?¬† Are we operating at breakneck speed, or with reckless abandon?¬† Are things moving at a manageable pace where we can think, design, re-think, and execute?¬† Can we turn if we need to? or stop when necessary? How often does our speed fluctuate?
- velocity: (veloci-raptor):¬† I have been using this term with account managers to describe how quickly we can complete projects, and every time I do my college Laura thinks I am talking about dinosaurs.¬† Velocity is a measure of speed in a direction.¬† It can also be explained as the distance traveled over time.¬† You may remember from physics that a car moving 100km/h forward for 10 minutes, and then 100km/h backwards for 10 minutes has an average velocity of¬† 0km/h.¬† Why? Well, while the car maintained a speed of 100km/h the the entire time, in the end it didn’t go anywhere.¬† Adding direction to the mix begs the following questions: which direction are we heading? Positive? Negative? Towards a greater goal? Short term? Long Term? ¬† Are we moving in a direction at all?¬† Does the direction change so often we are actually going in circles, or nowhere at all?
- mass:¬† this is the long shot of the analogy, but¬† lets make mass represent the team’s attitudes.¬† A team which is positive has more mass, while a team which is deflated has less mass.¬† Contributors to mass are simple:¬† Positivity, Support, Teamwork, Collaboration, Leadership, Accountability, and more.
momentum = velocity * mass
Momentum is all about velocity and mass, and remember that velocity is your speed in a direction. To maintain speed and course through a hostile collision, the more momentum you have the better.¬†¬† A team with momentum can easily bump small challenges out of the way, and can maintain speed and course during a collision with a larger issue.¬† Conversely, a team with little momentum can find the even smallest¬† collisions challenging.
Speed, Direction, Mass and Momentum. I am going to re-focus on gaining momentum using throttled speed, by gaining mass and most importantly by maintaining a net positive direction.¬† Remember that friction reduces speed, as do turning, and collisions.¬† If you want speed, you need balance the straightest path with the least resistance, while avoiding the catastrophic collisions.¬†¬† Oh, and once you are rolling with velocity and mass, inertia will keep you moving.¬† Note: the speed and direction need not reflect soulless productivity.¬† You control the speed and the direction, and you can direct the ship anywhere you want.¬† It is up to the leaders and the team to balance these components.
Next I will turn my focus to kinetic energy, potential energy, and gravity.
What are your thoughts?