Heitor Gouvêa

Research About

Direction is more important than velocity

Some time ago, I joined an engineering team that was classified by other teams in the company as a group that had slow software delivery. However, we didn’t have metrics to truly evaluate our speed. So it wasn’t possible to confirm or deny this possibility.

I started the work based on this hypothesis and began trying to create some kind of metric that could help me, such as monitoring the number of cards delivered per sprint. I made adjustments and quickly realized that it wasn’t smart to use this as a measure. Then I tried monitoring sprint points, which also quickly proved to be inefficient until I reached the famous DORA Metrics.

Using the DORA Metrics, things started to make more sense. It seemed like we had the necessary and correct information to begin winning that game. A lot of effort was applied, and we went from being categorized as “Low Performance” to reaching the “High Performance” level, and this took quite some time.

Being at the High level seemed like reason enough to celebrate, but the team’s day-to-day didn’t seem to live up to it. We still had the perception of losing the game, and it seemed like we had attacked the wrong root problem. Through an assessment (I can talk more about this in another post), I discovered that I was indeed tackling the wrong problem, and all that improvement in speed alone didn’t cause the expected impact.

During that same period, I was reading the book “The Almanack of Naval Ravikant” and a specific excerpt resonated very well with what was happening at work:

“The direction we take matters more than the speed at which we travel, especially with leverage. Choosing the right direction for each decision is much, much more important than the force applied. Just choose the right direction to follow and then start walking.”

These words resonated strongly with me. I realized that to achieve true success, I would need to reassess the team’s direction, rather than just focusing on delivery speed. Thus, we began to adopt a more strategic approach in our work, focusing on following the right path instead of just rushing at high speed.