How to measure agility

We saw in the previous chapter how products have to navigate a constantly shifting landscape, and that agility is the key ingredient for being successful.

So measuring agility is simple: we measure the product’s success.

For example, the product I work on has a north star metric of active users per month. That metric tells us how successful the product is. It also tells us how agile we are.


The Agile Manifesto says, “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software”.

A north star metric, or OKRs or whatever, are a good way to measure satisfying the customer.

It’s a much better measure of agility than “velocity” (story points per sprint), or the ratio of tickets done to tickets planned.

Isn’t a North Star metric too short-term?

Yes, a product might be wildly successful but then nosedive. Like MySpace was the most popular social network, until it crashed.

There are two ways this can happen.

1. Building the wrong thing. Like MySpace focusing on becoming a broadcaster with MySpaceTV, when the real opportunity was users uploading videos.

2. Building the thing wrong. The developers code themselves into a corner, and the product stagnates due to excessive technical debt.

In a few minutes we’ll look at how to measure how well a team is handling these risks. But first, we need to look at the core of agile…

Next: The Core of Agile

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