Impacting project’s health in a positive way

Negative emotions at work impact personal mood and performance. Emotions such as frustration or anger directly affect the productivity of the team and the project. Instead, happy teams experience a rise in productivity. Measuring the team’s mood leads to interesting metrics that can warn us for retention and performance.

Gilb Measurability Principle: “anything you need to quantify can be measured in some way that is superior to not measuring it at all.” —

There is an existing agile methodology in engineering software called Niko-Niko. This concept is known as a happiness index or a feelings calendar. Basically it is a tracking tool used to measure the mood of a team.

The technique is really easy: You have to create a calendar, and then each member of the team should track its mood after each working day, representing this with a mood, emoticon or sticker (or something as simple as colors post-its; I’ve seen teams using weather status too).

Over time, this calendar reveals patterns of change in the mood of the team or the individual members. After the tracking is done, a fundamental part of this process is gathering in regular intervals of time to analyze the data. Team can discuss why on an specific interval of time all the moods went down, reminiscence what issues where encountered during a period, if a change impacted positively/negatively on the project, etc.

The common way of implementing this is using a regular calendar visible in the team room, near the exit (easy access when leaving office). The thing is, that now with remote teams it is a bit difficult using the regular process. Thankfully, now we have access to many apps and software developed specifically to fulfill this needs.

My QA team tried using for a couple of months a beta app that daily sent us an e-mail asking for our mood. We later accessed the app and were able to see the analytics that it created with all of our tracked moods. The downside to this tool is that it didn’t have a way to record comments, making it difficult to remember why that day was so good or so bad. Sure, this was a beta tool and now we know that when it goes out it will offer the comments section, for a price.

As you can see in the images, the tools provides a good insight of the teams “feelings” during time. We had a short meeting to talk about these results, if the whole team felt that this tool was providing us with real help and what did we needed from this tool. The outcome was positive; the team wants to keep using the tool.

It is definitely a fast way for reflection and getting feedback, but we have to be careful on how to implement it and always have regular interval meetings to analyze the results. Plus, good thing that there a tons of tools out there that can be customized to your needs. ;D

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Artemisa Yescas Engler, Software Quality Engineer @Nearsoft.