Home » Agile » Are You Data-Driven or Data-Informed?

About Johanna Rothman

Johanna Rothman
Johanna consults, speaks, and writes about managing product development. She helps managers and leaders do reasonable things that work. You can read more of her writings at jrothman.com.

Are You Data-Driven or Data-Informed?

I delivered a webinar called Agile Metrics for Team and Product Progress last week, thanks to the nice folks at Innovation Roots.

I had fun and so did many of the participants. One person gave me a new saying about metrics (at the end, during the Q&A):

Are you data-driven or data-informed?

It’s such a great saying. I told her I was stealing it.

Here’s why. If you want predictions and targets, you use data to drive the decisions and work. If you want the ability to replan you use data to inform your next steps.

Note: data-informed does not mean you don’t create broad-stroke plans, such as roadmaps and gross estimates. You may still do so. I do. I find both the roadmap and my estimate (smaller or larger than a breadbox) helps me decide which products to deliver and when. And, I use the data about my cycle time to inform my replanning. (I don’t use velocity as a personal piece of data.)

You’ve seen people who want to use velocity as acceleration or a target. However, Velocity is not acceleration; it’s a measure of capacity. Those people think of data as a driver.

I have a suspicion about this mindset. Gantt charts and detailed WBS create the mindset that if we have a target, we will get there in the time and at the cost we specified. We can, for certain kinds of products or services. (For example, construction folks have specifications at a specific cost per square foot. And, the local garage knows how long it takes to change the oil so they can provide a flat fee for the service.

If we use agile approaches, we are inviting change, which means we can’t estimate everything at the beginning. And, we want to understand our progress, so we can readjust because we are responsible for our use of the organization’s money.

If we use agile approaches, does that mean we never have a target? Nope, I have target dates all the time. I break my work into small chunks so I can learn as I proceed if I will make that target date. I use my data to inform me about my pace. Sometimes, I can change how I work to meet my target date. Sometimes, I drop work. Sometimes, I’m early.

I loved that question about mindset: Are you data-driven or data-informed? The mindset helps you consider what to measure. Teams might do as I do, and create targets to see how they are doing. However, managers need to see product status, which uses data to inform and replan.

Published on Java Code Geeks with permission by Johanna Rothman , partner at our JCG program. See the original article here: Are You Data-Driven or Data-Informed?

Opinions expressed by Java Code Geeks contributors are their own.

(0 rating, 0 votes)
You need to be a registered member to rate this.
Start the discussion Views Tweet it!
Do you want to know how to develop your skillset to become a Java Rockstar?
Subscribe to our newsletter to start Rocking right now!
To get you started we give you our best selling eBooks for FREE!
1. JPA Mini Book
2. JVM Troubleshooting Guide
3. JUnit Tutorial for Unit Testing
4. Java Annotations Tutorial
5. Java Interview Questions
6. Spring Interview Questions
7. Android UI Design
and many more ....
Email address:

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of