Monday, July 23, 2012

Communicating the Product Vision

What are we supposed to build?
One of the most important responsibilities of a Product Owner is to communicate the product vision to all members of the organization. Not only is understanding the vision critical to product development and delivery, but it is also essential that everyone buys into the vision in order to contribute efficiently. For best results, spend time selecting appropriate modes of presentations per each audience type based on their needs and respective roles.
This week, I am sharing advice on techniques to present the vision and on how to maintain this information when you have adopted an agile methodology in which you are most competitive with a 'just in time' approach to planning.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Retain Talent Through Recognition

Most CEOs will tell you the most important asset is their employees.  Most human resource directors will tell you the most challenging problem facing them today is finding and retaining talent.  After diligent recruiting efforts and waiting longer than the market does, you build a great team of mixed individuals that have the potential to produce amazing things.  In addition to supporting an agile environment, companies must dedicate time and capital to implement recognition programs as part of the business model to retain their most valuable assets.  Not just key employees, but ALL employees should have the opportunity to earn public recognition from their peers, managers and executive team members. At the end of the day, we all like to feel appreciated.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Top 10 Mobile Release Considerations

Your initial release is going to be the one you have the least control over when it comes to planning which product features bring the most business value.  The reason you are constrained is because certain things must get done and decisions need to be made for the first mobile app release.   This weeks post is most useful to experienced teams that are new to mobile development and need a cheat sheet on what are the most important things to know when planning the initial release.  Since we are agile, the goal is to release an acceptable app early to market without sacrificing too much quality that you can not respond soon enough to market feedback.

Top 10 Considerations For Mobile App Release Planning

1. What device(s) and operating system(s) is your app compatible with?
You should keep track of the OS version and build number of the devices being used by the QA teams in conjunction with the code updates released by the development team.  Even if you are using a cross platform mobile development framework, it may not make the most sense to worry about all mobile devices this early on.  Shave time by choosing Android platform and indicate the compatible devices and software version. iOS will take a lot more time to get the first app submitted and approved by Apple, this does not include the timely process of activating an iOS developer account.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Is Your Team Happy?

Studies have proven that happiness is the key to success and longevity.  Many companies will use incentives or rewards as a means to increase productivity but there are challenges to keeping employee’s motivated for a consistent period of time.  Employers can only do so much to keep their people happy, people need to figure out how to make themselves happy.  How awesome would it be to start tracking the happiness of your employees to increase productivity in the workplace?
The key to measuring happiness is through continuous iterative cycles of inspection and honest feedback from employees.  I attended Jeff Sutherland’s latest webinar on the ‘Happiness Metric’ and I wanted to share some of the ways you can measure the happiness of your employees. The simplest way is to ask them using a short survey of questions and quantify the results.  Each culture is different so you may adjust the questions a couple of times before you can make correlations to the P&L.  Here is a sample set Jeff’s COO suggested I use on my last project.  I administered this exact survey to 5 different feature teams (6 members each), keep reading…
Number 1 and 2 are the only questions quantified for the metric:
  1. On a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being extremely happy) How happy are you feeling about your role? (Indicate Role)
  2. On a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being extremely happy) how happy are you feeling about the company overall?
  3. What were the leading factors that increased your happiness since the last survey? (Give example)
  4. What factors reduced your happiness since the last survey? (Give example)
  5. Do you feel like you understand the product vision? (Team)
  6. What is the one thing the team could do differently next sprint that would most increase your happiness? (Improvements)
Discipline is another key ingredient to creating hyper-productive teams.  Having your employees tell you how they feel and then doing nothing about it is counter-productive.  So here is the warning label for this article: WARNING: DO NOT TRY THIS AT WORK IF YOU ARE NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH TO IMPLEMENT CHANGE.
We will use metric again here at Seven Tablets and reformat it to suit the whole company, not just the product development teams.   The culture at our company is all about success through creativity and happiness.  Keep posted on my blogs and I will share the results in a couple months including  how to get everyone to adopt the survey.