Use of Velocity in Complex Organizational Settings

LeSS Scrum Master David Nielsen and I have discussed system dynamics in complex organizational settings, with respect to Velocity, produced by a single team and/or multiple teams.  We did only one cut (no dress rehearsals, dry runs or editing).
The following system variables were identified and their cause & effect relationship was ‘unpacked’:
  • Ability to use Velocity as a metric
  • Degree, to which combined velocity from multiple teams can be used as a measurement
  • Effectiveness of team’s estimation techniques
  • Likelihood that Customer/Product-centric development is valued, by business and the whole organization
  • Dependency on traditional organizational structure and protection of a status quo of component managers
  • Dependency on complex frameworks, processes
  • Degree of measurement dysfunction

As well as a few helpful proxy-variables to ‘glue’ the model together.

Download System Model (CLD)

Please, also refer to the following page on System Thinking, to make the best of the video and the model.

2 thoughts on “Use of Velocity in Complex Organizational Settings”

  1. I like the idea of doing refinement with a members of multiple teams, but I question how important estimation accuracy is on the productivity, quality or throughput of an Agile team. Velocity is not defined in Scrum, and very light-weight estimation is good enough to do good Agile development. But more estimation overhead does reduce productivity.

    • Yes, indeed. The purpose of estimation is to have a conversation: CCC = card, conversation, confirmation, not to produce a number. If there is any number to be produced, it should be a free by-product from having a dialogue. Refinement and estimation by ALL teams that are involved in product development (same product, same backlog, same PO), at least, ensure that there is shared understanding of complexity/size of work. Opposite to that, would be X number of component teams, estimating in silos, and pretending that they can just ‘add up’ their story points for a shared velocity 😉


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