The Happiness Metric: The Key to Optimizing Your Scrum Team’s Productivity

September 4, 2012

What is the key to high productivity via Scrum? According to Alex Brown, Chief Operating Officer at Scrum Inc., it all comes down to the retrospective and the “happiness metric.”

“We find that Scrum teams that aren’t making dramatic velocity increases each sprint are usually not devoting enough time to the retrospective at the end of each sprint,” Brown explains in this short video. Retrospectives are crucial in allowing the team to review their processes and identify the single improvement that would most benefit the productivity of the team.

How do you instigate a productive retrospective?

Brown and the team at Scrum Inc. are currently developing a new Scrum tactic utilizing what they’re referring to as the “happiness metric,” which they believe provides an actionable way to build a productive retrospective discussion into every sprint. At a high level, Brown explains, each member ranks their happiness with their own role on a scale 1-5. They then rank their happiness with the company using the same scale. Next, each member lists the things that are improving/holding back their happiness at any given moment. At the end of the meeting each team member reveals the one thing the team could do differently to improve their happiness. If team can agree on that one thing, making that change and/or removing that impediment can yield significant results.

For more on the Happiness metric, visit Scrum Inc. for a webinar hosted by Dr. Jeff Sutherland.

Photo by: Daniel Go


<strong>Alex Brown</strong> is a partner at <a href="">Recon Strategy</a>. Prior to this role, he was the Chief Operating Officer of Scrum Inc., a firm specializing in agile strategy and rapid new product innovation. Before that Alex spent 6 years at BCG, where he was a leader in the healthcare and consumer strategy practice areas. His engagements included re-envisioning high performance network design for a major national PBM; and designing a "nudge unit" leveraging consumer psychology to improve patient outcomes for a leading retail pharmacy. Prior to BCG, Alex led demand forecasting of complex transportation networks for major public investments. Alex graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. and Masters in Engineering, and earned an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.