Liftoff: Start and Sustain Successful Agile Teams
Diana Larsen and Ainsley Nies
(Notes w/ some personal adaptations)
Ready for Liftoff?
- product has sponsor and product manager?
- can articulate the business case?
- funding allocated and budgeted established for start?
- clear intention for what we want team(s) to accomplish?
- sponsor, product manager, and core team committed to clear, common, meaningful purpose
- sponsor, prod mgr, core team develop an initial understanding of success
- core team articulates and agrees to initial approach to work, including agreements on working behaviors
- core team has discussed its membersí interdependencies, skills, and potential
- core team has enough understanding of business needs to begin the work
- sponsor renews/ratifies commitment to invest (time/energy/funding) in the work
Liftoff Planning - General
- sponsor(s), program/product manager(s), key stakeholders
- core planning group, 3-5 people, needs relationships, skills, knowledge represented
- meeting or series, half- or whole-day, might spread over week or more
- include everyone w/ primary stake in execution, deliverables, outcomes, impacts
- logistics: dates/times, supplies, food, travel, distributed support, other non-content inputs
- consider an experienced outside facilitator
- consider conditions for optimal learning: containers/make clear, differences/amplify or dampen, exchanges/conversations+documents
- five rules: keep it alive, do it for real, start/stay obvious, focus on flow, put setting first
Liftoff Planning - Questions (for everyone, as needed, mapped to design pieces p. 23)
- learnings from past liftoff retrospectives?
- what will create best starting point for everyone involved?
- one or many teams?
- what will team(s) need to start well?
- whose support is essential for success? how much of the stakeholder universe to invite?
- how much will execs and sponsors attend?
- team needs new skills and/or knowledge?
- anticipated challenges in communication and info flow? how can begin to address in liftoff?
- all the right team members identified for x-functional work?
- known issues and constraints?
- known unknowns?
- what tone to set?
- likely that new info or ideas will emerge at liftoff? how open are we to adapting plan for the liftoff?
- how to document our learning and continue to improve our liftoffs?
- every liftoff needs a sponsor or executive introduction
- all activities have real work purpose
- participants create and own the outcomes
- every work group and project team needs agile chartering
- take time to include participants in design decisions
LIFTOFF STAGES AND OPTIONS
General Liftoff Prework - planning considerations and questions above
- introductions - people and goals
- groundrules - phones off, laptops only for presentations, no email, take messages at breaks and respond only when important AND urgent
- sponsor statement of support - incl. agreement/permission to fail
- one word check-ins
- graphic check-ins
- speaker Q&A
- retrospective - of teamís previous work OR team membersí previous experience
- future state - then work backward to identify behaviors/actions needed to make it happen
- AGILE CHARTERING establishes: purpose, alignment, context
- skills training - tech or team skills, six criteria?
- real-time planning - backlog, roadmaps, first iteration, etc
- lean coffee
- open space
- social event
- brief reports/review of outputs
- next steps
- thanks - from person who welcomed and kicked off
- feedback on ppts experience
- evaluate the design - accomplished everything identified in planning questions?
AGILE CHARTERING - GENERAL
Agile Chartering - purpose/definition of done
- everyone can articulate the business case, 15-sec elevator speech
- mission tests are mutually reinforcing and helpful for team learning
- everyone can say what their working relationship is with all others
- everyone publicly agreed with teh simple rules and working agreements as they apply to him/her
- everyone committed to accomplishing the purpose (sees the value)
- sponsors have committed right people and resources sufficient to succeed
Simple Rules for Agile Chartering
- whole system - consider inter-relationships of the whole, the parts and the greater whole
- collaborative work - work together to learn from each other and set the stage for journey/discovery
- GEFN - good enough for now, do just enough, resist perfecting
- start well - begin each endeavor in a context of possibility
- continuous learning - more and more as the work unfolds
- post vision, mission, tests in the workspace, update (w/everyone) whenever itís out of date
Changing Role of Product Owners and Sponsors
- develop rough draft of purpose pieces
- work with everyone in session to review, revise, ratify
- focus on customer and business value
- champion the product and team, helping to remove impediments
- recognize and celebrate successes
AGILE CHARTERING - MEETINGS
Chartering Prework Meeting(s) - small group, strategic decision-makers, draft purpose pieces, commonly hosted by product manager, expect to iterate on pieces, work toward ďgood enough for nowĒ
- welcome, introductions, agenda
- activity 1: participant product perspectives, broadly (questions p. 58)
- activity 2: prelim product vision (share samples)
- activity 3: prelim team mission
- activity 4: prelim mission tests
- check consistency across outputs
- next steps and close
Whole-team Workshop Meeting(s)
- welcome, introductions, agenda
- review and revise prelim purpose - vision, mission, tests, goodness check, commitment
- facilitate alignment - define simple rules, establish core team (skills, permissions, knowledge, group fitness, skills or other gaps, important things to know about individuals, personal goals), create core team working agreements, compare with goodness checklist p. 83
- complete context assessment - map boundaries and interactions, validate committed resources, conduct prospective analysis (impact/probability grid), compare to goodness checklist
- next steps and wrap-up
Liftoff Retrospective - p. 103
- welcome, introductions
- agenda, set the stage
- gather data - i.e. return on time invested graphing
- generate insights
- decide what to do
- thanks and closing
Keep the Charter Alive
- build on a team metaphor - often emerges during liftoff
- use charter pieces in making decisions, doing the work, adding new team members, etc
- review/update whenever you notice things have changed or work goes off the rails
AGILE CHARTER - PRODUCTS
- product vision (why) - how the product will change the world, problem it solves and benefits of that, the reason for the team and work effort to exist
- team mission (what) - teamís contribution to achieving vision - specifically: productís customers, teamís actions and outcomes, what product the team will deliver, differentiating attributes of product, value of the product to the customer - directs and limits tactical choices - many teams contribute to vision, each team writes own mission
- mission tests - specify indicators of progress, completion, value delivered - specific examples: productivity improvements, increases in capacity/capability, reduced turnover costs, other cost reductions, other gains and improvements - internal and external: team satisfaction, defect rates, six criteria and/or customer satisfaction, usage rates, mkt penetration, revenue goals, etc.
- compare with goodness checklist to confirm completeness
- simple rules (ideals) - guides p. 73
- core team - defined and individually committed to purpose
- working agreements - (5 or so) to guide daily work
- check against goodness checklist for completeness
- map of boundaries and interactions
- inventory of committed resources - time, access, funding/budget, workspace, supplies/equip, tools, team training,
- prospective analysis - surface/share assumptions, threats/hazards, opportunities
- check against goodness checklist