Do you like planning? You might be one of those people who likes to make lists and plan in great detail. I love my lists. I’m not big on huge, ginormous plans, but I do like a list of what to do now and the picture of where I’m headed.
You might not like lists at all. In fact, lists might make you feel quite hemmed in. I feel that way when I hear about what I call “Big Planning as Event,” a humongous meeting where everyone on a program is supposed to get together and plan for a quarter. My reaction? Yech.
On the other hand, how can you plan enough to know where you are headed, for the big picture and what to do now? Even if you don’t like detailed lists, I suspect that at work, you like enough planning so you can succeed. (We’ll leave the topic of the weekend honey-do list alone for now.)
The longer your planning horizon, the less you can optimize for what agile does best–adapt to changing conditions. And, if you are anything like most of my clients, you have managers who want you to commit to (at least!) a quarter’s worth of work. What can you do?
My advice: Create big-picture and short-term agile roadmaps with a Product Owner Value Team.
A big-picture roadmap shows the big themes, epics, ideas over time for your product. The short-term—definitely not more than a quarter in duration—shows the specific features and when the PO Value team hopes the project or program can deliver them. See the post Product Owners and Learning, Part 1 for images of both kinds of roadmaps.
The Product Owner Value team consists of :
* The Product Manager (customer-facing person who says, “Here are the major releases and much of what I want in them”),
* Product Owners for each of the feature teams (team-facing person who ranks and trades off features for a given team),
* and any Business Analysts who work closely with Product Owners
The Product Manager creates the big picture roadmap (maybe with the help of the rest of the Product Owner Value team). The Product Owners create the kanban- or iteration-based short-term roadmaps, where feature teams can see which feature the PO Value team wants when. These roadmaps might specify internal releases or even interim releases so the teams know when to deliver.
The more you have the big-picture and short-term deliverables, the easier it is for the PO Value team to say, “Oh, we got this feature set done. Good! That feature set still needs work. Is that work more valuable than this new feature set over here?” Or, the PO Value team might say, “Hmm, we’re partway through this feature set. We’re done enough for now with that set. Let’s have the teams start that other feature set, so our customer can see progress across the product.” The PO Value team optimizes the business value of the product.
The more the PO Value team plans and replans, the more responsive the feature teams can be. They can use continuous planning, as the teams finish features. That means you don’t need a planning ceremony or ritual. You need a PO Value team to deliver the big-picture and short-term ranking of what they want in the product and when. And, since we’re talking agile here, we want feedback to inform our next decisions.
For more about continuous planning and how to use it in programs, see Agile and Lean Program Management: Scaling Collaboration Across the Organization.
If you are a Product Owner and you would like to see how to use continuous planning, or if you would like some clarity on how to do your work better, please participate in my Practical Product Owner workshop. It starts Aug 23, so don’t delay.
My August writing workshop is full. If you would like to know about future workshops, please email me.
I’m speaking at these events:
Sep 14: Exploring Your Servant Leadership (ITMPI webinar)
See my calendar page for all my workshops and speaking dates.
Are you new to the Pragmatic Manager newsletter? See previous issues.
I’m starting to write romance—smart technical women and men who (might) deserve them. If you would like to join that list, please click to join Johanna’s Romance Readers. I’m still getting my web pages ready.
© 2016 Johanna Rothman
Tags: agile, change, deliverable, leadership, product owner, product ownership, project management, rolling wave planning, transition to agile, value