Someone said to me “surely you would expect the team’s velocity to continue to rise?”.

I have heard this many times and it really misses the point of velocity. It’s not to say that a well performing team’s velocity will not rise but, as a product owner, you should be looking for a predictable velocity first and foremost.

Remember that the team’s velocity represents the rate at which it can complete new work (implement change) and does not take into account technical debt. That is to say that it is unfair to link a team’s performance with velocity. For example, they may have inherited some technical debt that they are working on which has now taken up a lot of their capacity (velocity).

So, the goal must always be to achieve a predictable, realistic velocity.

In response to this I often get product owners saying that they fear that teams will deliberately underachieve to ensure a predictable velocity. Sadly, that is a team morale and/or attitude problem.

So remember, the goal is to achieve a predictable velocity not necessarily an ever increasing one.