Product baselines are key tool a management team can use to view a product lifecycle because they help a team look at what was done, Good baselines should help a team see what was done right, what we thought was done right, and what we should not do again. These assumptions should help improve the product. The job of the product manager is to present these baselines so that management can make the best decision on direction. Yes a good product manager can as well make these conclusions, but it is not your job. Your job is to gather the most concrete and up-to-date data to ensure the baseline tells the real story. Your job is critical, since it is your presentation that will persuade management. Your job is on the line, since it is your detailed investigation that will rate an effort as done right, done right but wrong decision, or done wrong.
a simple scoring method that describes the stages of a product regardless of complexity
I would recommend that product managers find a simple scoring method that describes the stages of a product regardless of complexity. Then fine-tune this scorecard and use this from product to product to ensure that it is consistent and clear from a management perspective. The scorecard above was created for comparing a single complex product across multiple regions in EMEALAAP. Senior management can quickly assess where things went wrong and where we need to to focus so that we get things right the next time.
“If you can measure it, you can manage it.” ― Robert S. Kaplan, Strategy Maps
So, I’ve spent my last days sending out calendar holds, mini 1-on-1s, and completing rough documents that begin scope out the vision and “really big” stories for the project. Since we are approaching the holiday season most of the next weeks will be spent planning and setting up a workspace so we are ready for Sprint 1.
My digital writing is no more legible than pen and paper. 😉
The planning call today covered some basics that we’ll need in this project. As previously stated we won’t run this as a traditional software development sprint, but rather apply agile to an innovation product management sprint, with a cross-function team of 4 core members. I’ve created the checklist below that should help you get things running if you’re new to this process.
- Define each work streams and verify an owner of eacH – Ours are defined as technology/design, content development and production, business, and marketing
- Setup pep-talks with the owners, mini 1-on-1s
- Define a commitment goal for the core group – We won’t be looking this group in a rooo for 2 week sprints so we agreed that a commitment for 35-40% of each persons total time will be our sweet spot. (There is no sweet spot in agile. The goal is for the team to be motivated and be able to deliver in short chunks.)
- Set a start date and an end date for the first release – we’ve pick a national event in March where key influencers will be. Goal is to create awareness for the pilot project and have influencers recommend it to our target users.
- Setup baseline configuration – we will be use JIRA
- Import rough (really big) stories to start building a backlog, pick a few that may be relevant for the first sprint and analyze these to ensure we have what is needed to put them into the first sprint – budgets, specification, business support, etc
- Decide how to size stories – points or hours – being a cross-functional team with non-software expertise we’ve chosen to use hours rather than story points.
I hope this helps give some guidance with the pre-sprint planning process. I’m not brand new to agile, but adopting it as a new innovation tool for managing this project introduces some new challenage and hurdles. Feel free to ask me any questions along the way and follow me to stay updated.
So I’ll leave you with two last points that may help you until the next post:
- Always just focus on the current sprint – the next two weeks.
- Create stories that can be completed to help the team perform at their best.
you may want to read the previous post A Transition to Agile
I recently came across a presentation from Stanford University that suggested students of E145 use the Lean Canvas tool when beginning their startup business model journey. Of course we all have worked with the business canvas model (if not have a look here), but as a product person I had never thought to use the canvas model in the prototyping and pilot phase of a product. I thought I’d share my adaptation of the lean canvas so you may better validate key findings which later become the drivers for your value proposition.
Create better product hypothesis using a Product Hypothesis Lean Canvas
Note to color coding: Green/Validated, Yellow/Assumption, Red/Invalidated
The canvas below uses the principles of the business model canvas. One area that I have changed is the middle block from Value Proposition to Key Finding. I did this because as we worked with customers with prototypes I realized we were collecting valid hypothesis on their needs and pain. Instead of calling these value propositions at this stage in the game I found it better to document the key findings and attempt to validate or invalidate as we tested with customers.
When findings are validated across multiple groups we can them form a hypothesis around these that drive the value proposition in the business canvas. At this point we can save all validated field and begin testing this these final assumptions and key value propositions by repeating the process.
If you are looking for some more canvas tools here are a few that may help:
Lean Canvas – from Lean Stack – Lean Canvas is the top choice for entrepreneurs, universities, accelerators, and groups inside big organizations.
Steve Blank – startup tools – Steve wrote the book that launched the Lean Startup movement.
Wikipedia – Business Model Canvas – and while you are on Wiki its a perfect time to make a donation!