In the race between How Fast? and How Valuable?
- the former might be an ingredient of the latter, but
- the former should never win at the expense of the latter.
We can get to crap-shack in a hurry.
I want to be meticulous about the meaning of value. It’s not easy, but the challenge should inspire.
Value differs with every project. A pattern of define and measure is necessary.
Define and Measure
On every software team I have been on, we ignored the objectively measurable for the sake of expedience, then married How Valuable?with wild-assed guesses — our guesses, or those of the business.
I am ready for this to stop.
The challenge is marrying How Valuable? with verifiable data. An example of what I mean would be to equip our teams to address and react to concrete questions like
- What’s our retention rate following the new feature?
- How many new users did we enroll?
- How many units did we sell?
- Did our community react favorably to the change?
- What are 3 pain points for our user community?
- What are 3 beefs our user community has with our software?
- Has the volume of help desk calls changed?
Whenever questions like these are asked, the follow-up is How much do we care?
The Next Project
So, I’m thinking about my next project. Here’s my to-do list so far:
- Lobby for a discussion of what’s valuable
- Continually challenge team members about what’s valuable
- Sustain a living definition of what’s valuable
- Find ongoing means to measure and demonstrate value
- Be a rat terrier on the heals of lazy, unclear, or incomplete value definitions
- Be a rat terrier on the heals of value definitions that can’t be verified
- Push to collect data to verify the iterative addition of value
- Prepare to react to feedback from data collection
- Limit back-patting in retrospectives simply because stories were completed
- Limit back-patting in retrospectives if incremental value cannot be proved
- Challenge “Product Owners” or “The Business” when notions, laziness, or any lack of commitment toward proving value prevails