Team Health: A Daily Checkup

John Cutler
4 min readMar 7, 2016

I hear people talking all the time about “measuring” product development teams. Do we measure velocity, value delivered, or bugs removed / introduced? But what if you flipped the script? What if teams devised their own daily check-in to gauge their performance? What if they focused on great leading indicators of success and health, and used those measures to guide continuous improvement efforts?

I think you’d see something very different emerge. As individuals we care for our health. As teams we should do the same.

Here’s a simple model for a daily check-in. I’ve created a spreadsheet version in Google Sheets. Feel free to make a copy of it and use as you see fit.

Find this spreadsheet here

I’ve included the questions below with some background. The spreadsheet has a simple weighted scoring system.

Today our team:

Had two hours of uninterrupted time to work? How can any team function if their time is being continuously interrupted? Before you know it the whole day has slipped away. Two hours is an ideal chunk of time. Hammering out two chunks of two hours each is a major accomplishment in a distraction-filled environment.

Had a conversation with a customer (or group of customers) involving >1 member of your team? Why silo the front-line from customers? It may seem more efficient to let people act as an interface. But in my experience that just encourages hoarding of data, and introduces signal loss as information is filtered through to the builders and makers. Regular contact with customers improves intuition and encourages empathy.

Discussed facts about customer needs, usage, etc.(vs. assumptions, guesses, predictions)? Are your meetings filled with guesses? Guesses are cheap. Shift the conversation to facts and data and meetings suddenly become a lot more productive (and even fun).

Learned something new? If the team is not learning — about customers, the domain, their technology, or themselves — then they’re slipping backwards. Learning new things is stimulating. It makes your current job worth it, and sends you packing if it isn’t happening.

Applied a recent learning? To hone a skill you must apply it. Did you apply a recent learning today? Not something you learned in high school — that’s cool…

John Cutler

Multiple hat-wearer. Prod dev nut. I love wrangling complex problems and answering the why with qual/quant data. @johncutlefish on Twitter.