Is everybody in the team aligned on what the objective is? And, is everyone working together to accomplish the objective?

The answer to the above questions fundamentally boils down to what the ideal team velocity is for an organization. The reasons team velocity is often unpredictable is that there is no collective focus and because of that output varies. Of course, there are factors outside this (vacations, for example) but usually, most of them can be planned for. What we cannot plan for is inconsistent efforts.

Ideal Team Velocity = Alignment factor in individuals * Estimated Team Velocity Ideal Company Velocity = Alignment factor in teams * Estimated Product Velocity

Alignment factor is the critical factor in estimating/improving team velocity. I think of it as the factor that makes this entire equation predictable. When every person on the team is aligned and working towards common objectives, the team velocity becomes predictable. As an extension, when all the teams are aligned towards common objectives, the company hits a great product velocity.

Alignment factor = Percent of believers * X-factor

Roughly, I think of alignment factor as how well you can rally the team. The X-factor is the magic number that inspires innovation and it will happen when a tipping point is reached. This is the force multiplier for innovation.

A tipping point will happen within the team when enough people believe in the shared objective and focus on it relentlessly. (You can see that in the video above, close to the end, when the fishes start pulling the net downwards). The tipping point is the one that causes a noticeable momentum shift and from that point onwards innovation happens naturally.

Good leaders understand the importance of this momentum shift and they work relentlessly to create an environment where this happens sooner rather than later.