High Performing Culture

What metrics do you use within your organisations to define and measure a high performing culture ?

I’m interested in more general answers, but for technology organizations specifically, the book “Accelerate” by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble and Gene Kim has a bunch of research and suggested metrics for high performing technology organisations. We’re planning to use a survey similar to those the research was based on with our engineering and product development teams.

The 4 metrics they measured were:

  • Lead time for changes
  • Deployment frequency
  • Time to restore service
  • Change failure rate

Their research correlated these metrics (broadly grouped as “software delivery performance”) with strong organisational performance:

[software delivery performance] is a key value driver and differentiator for teams and organizations in any industry because it enables organizations to leverage software to deliver improved outcomes. These outcomes are measured by many factors, including productivity, profitability, and market share as well as non-commercial measures such as effectiveness, efficiency, and customer satisfaction… For the fifth year in a row, our research finds that software delivery performance is an important component of organizational performance.

For more reading:

Given every organisation has a different culture, the first step is to define yours. The down-side is you can’t easily benchmark it - given it is unique to you. But you can ask survey questions specific to it - asking the classic think, feel and do questions.

Do employees think you have a positive culture? Do employees think you have a universal culture? Do employees think culture is valued by the organisation? Do employees think management/leadership live the culture? Do they believe anti-culture behaviour is addressed? Do they believe the culture and values are aligned? Are they proud of the organisation’s culture? If there was one thing they could change about the culture, what would it be?

For the leadership team, I also go through the following (but it could be used for any team - or the whole organisation): Why are we here (do they agree on purpose and identity), do we have trust (are we forthright and respectful), are we clear on our goals (are the explicit, shared and integrated), are we committed (do we have clear roles, is our decision making transparent), how to we execute (are our processes solid, is implementation aligned), do we perform (do we exceed goals, is there synergy), do we review our ‘why’ (is our style enduring, have we mastered change).

And never forget, surveys never give you answers - just great questions to explore further with employees.

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