Pirate metrics for agile transformations

May 17, 2023
Pirate looking through her telescope

While working on my workshop for XP2023 in Amsterdam this morning I was trying to minimize my opinions on metrics and agility into a single sentence. While doing so, I briefly considered a tangential thought about "What would it look like to use the pirate metrics to measure agile transformation success? What could we learn from that comparison?" I didn't want to put the focused thought into it, so as an experiment, I decided to let ChatGPT answer the question for me. Two prompts later, and I have something that is quite good enough to support a conversation and metrics design session. 

"How do we measure agile transformation success?" is a question that inevitably arises within the first weeks or months of an effort, usually about the time the first status update to more senior leadership is right around the corner. It's an area with a lot of risks and potential adoption-killers, and there's no clear right answer that spans all companies. Once you start treating agility as a product, and treating your colleagues across the company as your customers, you can start applying many new tools and approaches to answering tough adoption questions. This post is mostly a side-bar of personal interest because of how I stumbled on it, but it is useful enough content to share. 

I'm quite impressed with how well ChatGPT created the below output, which I've posted unchanged. I've included the prompts at the bottom of the post, but I want to highlight the ability to create a useable approach with very little input. As is, I find the generated content quite interesting as a starting point for a center of excellence. Total time invested? 3 minutes. It would have taken me 30-60 minutes to generate a similar list myself, and I've been studying agile metrics for over a decade. 

  1. Acquisition:

    • Number of individuals or teams actively showing curiosity and interest in agile practices.
    • Participation in agile training sessions, workshops, or knowledge-sharing sessions.
    • Attendance at agile-focused events, conferences, or meetups.
  2. Activation:

    • Regular practice of agile values such as collaboration, transparency, and adaptive planning.
    • Effective use of agile practices like self-organization, continuous integration, or test-driven development.
    • Demonstrated understanding and implementation of agile principles and mindset.
  3. Retention:

    • Emphasis on continuous improvement, evident in the frequency and quality of retrospective meetings.
    • Integration of feedback loops to encourage learning and adaptation.
    • Retention of agile values and practices during times of market changes or organizational restructuring.
  4. Referral:

    • Internal promotion of agile practices through success stories, case studies, or presentations.
    • Recognition and acknowledgment of teams or individuals who have embraced and championed agile principles.
    • Active engagement in communities of practice or internal knowledge-sharing platforms related to agile.
  5. Revenue:

    • Increase in customer satisfaction and loyalty, as evidenced by feedback and testimonials.
    • Improvement in time-to-market for delivering products or services.
    • Positive impact on key performance indicators (KPIs) related to revenue generation or cost reduction.
  6. Resilience:

    • Ability to adapt and respond to changes in the market or industry, incorporating agile practices and values.
    • Flexibility in adjusting organizational structures and processes to support agile ways of working.
    • Rapid recovery from setbacks or failures, enabling continuous improvement and learning.

Sharing as is output. My first prompt was "Brainstorm ways in which one might measure an agile transformation's progress using a model similar to the pirate metrics used in product management" and my follow-on prompt to adjust the resulting shape was "Regenerate the above with the following changes: Connect resilience to retaining agility through changes in the market and changes in the organization structure. Increase the prominence of continuous improvement in the retention section. Focus acquisition on curiosity and learning and remove the adoption or coach elements. Focus Activation more on practices and values and less on frameworks."

For giggles, I also generated the post image using DALL-E via Bing's Image Creator, using the prompt "Female pirate looking through a telescope with the rigging of the ship, ocean, and clouds out of focus behind her. " I was amused that I got flagged as an inappropriate prompt in my first attempt when I included the phrase "do not sexualize the model"