Tell Us Why We’re Doing This

I’m constantly shocked that business people don’t make much of an effort to communicate to engineers the impact of their work. It’s par for the course that the engineers don’t know how many users their product has, how many clients they have, how much revenue the product makes, etc. It’s so common in fact that I wonder sometimes if it’s intentional.

There is an Agile concept known as the information radiator. Some companies will put dedicated big screen TVs throughout their offices that show key metrics at a glance. If you have a remote-first culture, a television isn't going to do much good, but a web-based dashboard placed somewhere the whole team goes every day (like your issue tracker) is a great substitute. 

These ideas are more about passive awareness, but I think the next step up is active discussion. If you're doing some kind of regular all-hands meetings, like a retrospective, that's a perfect time to pull up that dashboard as a team and discuss it together.

How do we know we did a good job over the last sprint? Yeah, we marked all of our tickets as "Done", but so what? How do we know that our customers are happy with our work? Company leaders always want to know how to get their employees more "engaged" in their work. Show your team how their day-to-day tasks impact real end users. Working a backlog of items sprint after sprint is so far removed from the impact of the work. Why are we doing these things?

How many users did we add over the last two weeks? How many new customers came on board? How many usages of [NEW FEATURE X] did we have? 

I feel like I'll be banging this drum for the rest of my career: Engineers are not robots. We want to know the high level goals of our work and how our work impacts real people.

Please, tell us why we're doing this.