I have been doing some work for a team that is struggling to deliver. They are established, have a vision that is okay and backlog that looks organised. On the face of it, they are doing the right things – yet, there is room for improvement, but isn’t there always..? Anyway I have been employed to help them get delivering not just nit-pick.
They are using Scrum. I go to a backlog grooming session with them. It soon becomes apparent that the PO and PM are struggling. They have a lot to do and it all needs to be done yesterday – “where do we start?” they say, looking at me.
The thing they are missing is a ‘value driver’ – an essential tool for helping teams work out what to do next. They help shape products that make you stand out from the crowd.
To see what a value driver is, let’s look at the Automotive Industry. Cars all have one thing in common. They all get a person from A to B. Yet, they are different. These differences are down to how features and development efforts are prioritised. Volvo’s value driver is safety. Porsche’s value drivers are speed and status. As a result of pursuing these different value drivers, they have ended up with different styles of car.
So I brought this same question up with the team. What are your value drivers? Well, they had loads. Responsiveness, security, functionality, high load ability – the list goes on. In the end I made them choose just two – a primary and a secondary. They had to ditch the rest for now.
What was the result? Well, using just the primary value driver made the PO understand the backlog much better. They gave focus. As a result the backlog was re-prioritised with some fascinating changes that no-one saw coming. It made things clerer and simpler for the PO and the whole team. Crucially, the team were able to start deliveing effectively again.
Another useful bi-product is that the value drivers are facilitating discussions between the PO and those sending in new requirement requests. If the new requirements don’t support the value drivers, the PO can have an informed discussion with them about why they are being prioritised below things that do, factually and without any undue friction.
Value Drivers: another simple and effective bit of kit in your agile toolbox.