REI – Research, Experiment, Implement

Pic of a magnifying glass, a beaker and a rocket

Many iterative or continuous flow teams fall into the trap of trying to lock down a final solution, build it and deliver it. But that’s not how product development really works. Instead, there is a constant learning cycle to figure out what it is that’s needed, then to test and improve until the desired outcomes are reached.

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What is a Measurable Outcome (MO)?

Outcome dartA Measurable Outcome or MO, is a clearly defined measurable definition of success. An outcome is where you want to get to.

Increasing conversion rates, minimizing support calls, or improving time to market.

Outcomes exist at multiple levels. They might be high-level strategic goals for example, to increase customer acquisition, increase monetization and improve customer engagement.

They might be product level outcomes. For an e-commerce website; to Increase conversion rates.
For services it might be to improve the website availability.

There might be capability outcomes, for example: Decrease time to market, deploy products faster, reduce costs in operating systems.

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The Value of Innovation

I’ve been reading up on the value of innovation, in preparation for the Value seminar by Tom Gilb in London this week. One question for Agile teams is how to innovate within the constant pressure of “Sprinting” and barely having time to draw breath.

Agile teams can be innovative of course, although from experience I suspect this is more from a sharing and aligning of the business and users needs than from some magical technique, and of course this can is not just from Agile, Agile merely improves collaboration and communication.

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We Should Run Our Products Like a Trading Floor

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Imagine an investment bank running with the following scenario:

Manager:

“Hi team, we are putting in place a new process for you to help us be more predictable and control our budget and schedules over the next year. By the end of December, we want you to hand in a plan that tells us:

  • Which trades you will execute over the next year
  • What date you can deliver each trade
  • The cost for each trade, and the cost for all of the yearly trades
  • The expected revenue you will make for the whole year.

To help you, we will be monitoring the progress every few months to ensure you have made the trades you committed to, on time and on budget.

If you find that a trade is no longer worth executing, please submit a change request form and get sign-off from your manager to remove the trade. If you would like to add a make a new trade that is not on your trading plan, please fill out a separate change request form and send it to your manager. When you are trading on behalf of external clients, please ensure you also get your legal counsel to make the changes to the contract and sign-off on it before executing any new trades not covered in your annual trading plan.

Please send any comments or questions to your manager and we will endeavor to answer them in a timely fashion.

While the scenario above is clearly insane due to changing market conditions and decisions that need to be made in microseconds rather than a year in advance, do they do exactly this with their product teams?

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How the Traditional Contract Model Increases the Risk of Failure

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In 2007 the UK Department for Communities and Local Government (the DCLG) entered into a contract with European Air and Defence Systems (EADS, now known as Cassidian) to deliver an IT system that would underpin the FiReControl project.

The FiReControl project aimed to improve the UK Fire and Rescue Service by replacing 46 local control rooms with a network of nine purpose-built regional control centres. The project was expected to be completed in October 2009, and the DCLG’s original estimate of the project costs was £120 million. By 2009, two years into the project, the expected duration of the project had doubled, and the anticipated total project costs had increased by more than 500% to £635 million. In 2010 the contract was terminated. The DCLG had wasted at least £469 million as a result of the failure of the project to deliver.

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