Well Rich , we talked about mis-usage, gaming metrics...etc...
Data in general can be misused/gamed in any environment (in ref to some posting)... To prevent that we usually have some business conduct guidelines.
The essence of Agile is in its principles and especially the ones related to people. respecting people, trusting them. building a.trusting environment for the team to collaborate and work towards common goals....This, I would assume ( being naive here may be) will .encourage people not to misuse the metrics.
OOPS, it's about misuse of metrics OUTSIDE the team! How can you prevent that? In my view , management (outside the team) should be made "agile aware" and understand what it means to have an agile team that will commit to their objectives (tracked by a certain number of metrics). They should trust the whole team, allow a certain degree of freedom to the team on how they can meet their commitments. Those should be made by the team, not FOR the team. To me this is one way of avoiding the mis-usage of metrics outside the team. In addition having an agile champion/coach who would work with the team and management will facilitate the communication between the two parties. This is another safe way to minimize the risks of gaming the metrics ...Any thoughts from others?
This is a huge topic.... I'm surprised it hasn't gotten more feedback. In my experience, this is the NUMBER 1 issue when talking about Agile metrics. Executives misuse the data constantly and honestly don't get it... some for a long time.... and some forever. A quick story.... early on in the development of Team concert we had almost an order of magnitude more defects reported in our systems than for similar products we had developed earlier. The proper response should have been "Excellent - we are exercising the code and finding the defects now so our customers won't later". However, what actually happened was a number of emergency meetings to talk through why the project was off the rails!. Its key to have the executive team understand and support the metrics, because as soon as you miuse metrics, they quickly turn into something not intended.
I think there's a common misunderstanding that executives/businesses always use metrics correctly, except of course where agile metrics are involved. This is rarely the case. Management that use metrics as indicators, as a sign that more clarifying questions are needed to understand what is going on, will also get agile metrics, whether velocity, value delivered, defect rates or whatever. Those that don't will need a gentle shift in mindset to get agile metrics (and probably most of the other metrics they are seeing). A common lagging indicator that metrics are not treated as indicators is the propensity to report everything as green until far too late.
In reality - numbers are needed to communicate and inform those far from a business unit about what critical things are going on within that business unit. A lot of the discussions around business score cards, and other executive metrics methods, focus on helping everyone understand *what* is being measured (and just as importantly what is _not_ being measured).
I really like Liker's descriptions in The Toyoto Way to Lean Leadership (http://www.amazon.com/Toyota-Way-Lean-Leadership-Development/dp/0071780785/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351887760&sr=1-1&keywords=toyota+lean+leadership) where he talks about how lean (read agile) leaders use metrics to determine where to walk around and find out more - not as a tool for distant management but as an indicator for where to focus leadership attention to create an environment (note - not to helicopter in and solve the problems) for the emerging leaders in that group to step up and solve the issues.