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How to Measure Happiness Across a Large Group

An aerospace parts client recently emailed me asking how to measure happiness across a group of hundreds of employees. Since this is a question we get frequently, I thought it would be a great idea to share the answer with all of you.

Here is what I've learned about measuring team happiness:

The happiness metric retrospective is easy to run via the team’s Scrum Masters. It can also be approximated through a simple survey for teams or employees not on a scrum team.

The Scrum Master asks these four questions:

On a scale of 1 to 5, how happy are you with your role?
On a scale of 1 to 5, how happy are you with your team?
On a scale of 1 to 5, how happy are you with the company?
What could we do next sprint that would make you happier?

After this, the Scrum Master facilitates a team discussion on what the team could do, during the next sprint, that might increase the entire team’s happiness. This nuance is important, elevating the focus from individual happiness to team happiness.

For more on why, see the work of MIT Sloan business school's award-winning professor Otto Scharmer, Theory U. It is also important to couch the type of happiness we are referring to, and that is happiness now that leads to future happiness as defined by Harvard lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar in "Happier".

After the discussion, the Scrum Master of each team then writes down the result of that conversation, with acceptance criteria, and an effort estimate, and puts it in the backlog for the next sprint.

For more information on how to manage given happiness data each sprint, please see our Scrum Master and Product Owner courses.

Additional resources:

Harvard Business Review article on our work with John Deere: Why John Deere Measures Employee Morale Every Two Weeks

Bain & CO’s “the ultimate question” book and the NPS method.

Wishing you happy, ultra-high performing teams,


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