Dirty glasses at a bar

I thought you were taking notes!

A Korn Ferry survey indicated that 67% of respondents felt that they are spending too much time on meetings and calls which “distract from making an impact at work.” Many organizations have tried to rein in meetings by trying tactics like no meeting days to increase focus time. It is a shame that the idea has not caught on. On a personal level, I habitually block chunks of my calendar to ensure I can not be automatically booked into meetings. Note, the Korn Ferry survey indicates that 35% of people invited to a meeting they feel will be unproductive still accept and attend. We need to fix this productivity sink. Measurement is table stakes for change. A few simple measurement approaches that are useful for beginning a dialogue are:

  1. Simple Time Accounting. Count the number of people in a meeting and multiply by the time spent.  Eight people in a one-hour meeting is equivalent to one person being out of circulation. Adding in preparation time and travel time between meeting rooms the number gets larger.  I recently was in a meeting with 37 attendees that lasted 1.5 hours – about 7 people talked, lots of people did email, and the Scrum Master showed PowerPoints from each team. At 55 hours of time (a lot of it billable) was consumed in the meeting. 
  2. Return on Time Invested (ROTI).  I have used this metric as a tool to start a conversation about the value of meetings in a number of scenarios. The process is fairly simple, The facilitator asks the participants to vote on a scale of 1 (no value, this is a blank spot in my life) to 5 (high value, this was worth more than the time spent); Fist-to-Five is often used as a technique to vote. I have seen larger meetings use colored sticky notes to achieve the same outcome.  Meetings with a median response above a 3 (average value) are considered a good meeting, those with less than that require mitigation. 
  3. Meeting Net Promoter Score. This approach builds on the well known Net Promoter Score concept that has been used by organizations for years to measure interactions with clients. I use this for recurring meetings (sprint planning or demonstrations for example). In this case, meeting satisfaction is measured on a scale of 1 (horrible) – 10 (wonderful). (see Customer Satisfaction Metrics for a more in-depth discussion of the mechanics). Meetings with low net promoter scores need to be examined carefully.

Data is valuable because it can be gathered and reviewed, trends can be spotted, and it can supplant opinions in retrospectives (that is good). Retrospectives using even basic techniques such as the rose and thorn (what worked and didn’t) will help to identify improvement opportunities. Start by asking the people most impacted by meetings how to improve them once you have some data! 


From Story Points to Test Driven Development – A Dev Team Story

By Rebecca Schira

I’ve been supporting agile teams for almost six years. What is the one common issue I’ve seen across many teams and two companies during that time? Everyone loves story points or at least proclaims to love them. But why? The common answers we’ve all heard -they’re easier to understand, they’re a good way to do a gut check, etc. Without fail, each and every one of these teams sucked at estimating how much work they could accomplish. (more…)

Check Mark


Understanding customer satisfaction is important. It might be more important for a product or services sold to someone outside the firm because of the link between satisfaction and sales —  no customers = no revenue. Understanding customer satisfaction for internal IT groups, groups that support the value chain, are often given short shrift. However, careers and budgets are influenced by satisfaction. Making sure you have the right approach and logistics for measuring internal customer satisfaction is critical for being successful. The questions described in earlier blog entries in this theme (see below) can be used as a really simple checklist. Review the questions below and answer them with either: yes, no, or no clue.  (more…)

Soap, Shampoo, Towel and Rubber Duckie

Everything you need for a proper bath!

The fourth category of considerations for an organization that is primarily focused on internal applications to think about before they start measuring customer satisfaction is self-sufficiency. However, before we start, after the first article in this theme, I was asked whether the overhead of the four considerations would put teams and individuals off from talking to their clients, customers, and stakeholders. The simple answer is no. Conversations with individuals about their satisfaction with your efforts are important feedback tools. Sprint Reviews and Demos are events that are structured to create those conversations.  Conversations and formally measuring customer satisfaction are not the same thing. Neither should preclude or interfere with the other but rather doing both will provide different types of information. If you are not talking with your stakeholders, I will put it more succinctly: you probably have a career issue that measurement will not fix.   (more…)


Rock piled by the shoreMost internal IT organizations do not have a lot of experience as professional customer research personnel, but they have to get a handle on how their work is perceived. Before tackling the collection and analysis of how customers and clients perceive their work there are four considerations, we take a deeper dive into three today. (more…)

One Way Stop Sign

Measuring or assessing customer satisfaction is a fact of life for products and services for organizations that deliver to their customers. I receive several every day. Each text, email and phone call asking my opinion tells me that my opinion matters. The process of determining whether customers are happy is a form of attention. Internal customers are not always paid the same compliment, this is a rectifiable mistake. There are multiple ways to collect customer satisfaction data (a sample of techniques are in Customer Satisfaction Metrics and Quality) the next four segments of the blog are not going to focus on data collection techniques, but rather on internal customer satisfaction measurement rationale and infrastructure. Spending time upfront to understand whether what you are doing solves a problem or is a sustainable process is important. None of this is easy and doubly so because most collecting and analyzing the data aren’t marketing or market research personnel. There are four areas that need to consider before you send your first survey or schedule your first stakeholder interview. (more…)

Story Points: No Parking

Story points are a planning tool that has proponents and opponents. Like most tools, story points are not prima facie evil, it is only through misuse that they are problematic.  Problems tend to occur because leader, managers, and team members have a need (or at least a very strong desire) to know when a piece work will be done, what they are going to do next, whether they are meeting expectations, and in many cases what something will cost. Story points are a relative measure, a proxy of a proxy that makes answering any of these questions with precision very difficult. The best anyone can hope for is that the answers story points provide are accurate enough and provide a coherent feedback loop for teams. This could be considered damning with faint praise, however, in the right circumstances story points are a useful tool for a TEAM. I am a proponent of using story points in three scenarios. (more…)

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