November 2020 Archives

Shared vision on product

Shared vision is one of the five disciplines practiced in learning organization. I shall write two articles on how this discipline relates to product development organization. This one is on product vision, and the next one will be on organizational vision.

Let's look at how shared vision relates to product in both one-team Scrum context and multi-team LeSS context, especially considering that both Scrum and LeSS have the role of PO, who sets product vision and priority.

One-team Scrum

In this context, there is one team and one product.

Regarding product, there are why, what and how. PO and team are responsible for them altogether, with the below division.

shared vision - 1.jpg

It is clear that the how responsibility is completely owned by team, and the why responsibility is mostly owned by PO. However, the what responsibility is shared by PO and team. The specific division is decided by themselves and context dependent. Usually when team matures, team takes over more of them. It includes two parts. One is requirement clarification. The teams that need to be fed by PO with all requirement details at best work for product delivery. The other is solution creation. The great teams take the problem from PO and create solution for it, and they truly work for product creation.

Shared vision relates to the why. Why this product defines product vision, and why this feature defines feature value. Prioritization is based on both the vision of the whole product and the value of the specific feature. How can PO make the product vision a shared vision? How can PO make the prioritization a shared decision?

shared vision - 2.jpg

The above diagram comes from the book "The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook" and shows the degree of shared-ness. PO can simply tell the product vision and the priority, but as team has almost no active involvement, there is the lowest degree of shared-ness. On the other hand, if the product vision is co-created and the priority is co-defined, there is the highest degree of shared-ness.?

How can we make co-creation work? Through collaboration and participatory decision making. A coach or facilitator like ScrumMaster would be of great help. Many product envisioning techniques such as design thinking are built upon the divergent and convergent pattern, while the book "Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making" is one of the classics to facilitate this process.

When PO and team co-create the vision and co-define the priority, there is really no separate role, it is just one team. In the book "Leading Teams", this is the self-governing team setting overall direction on its own, which is simply a natural progression from self-managing team. Do we have this kind of team in reality? Yes, great startup teams often work this way.

Multi-team LeSS

In this context, there are multiple teams, but one product.

?In LeSS, product creation is already defined as teams' responsibility. As one PO works with many teams, it is practically impossible to leave teams in the delivery mode. Teams not only work on requirement clarification but also product creation. What remains for PO is still vision and prioritization. See the below diagram from the LeSS guide "The LeSS Organization" for details.

shared vision - 3.jpg

While PO "provides" vision and direction, similar to the one-team context, he could create various degrees of shared-ness by doing it differently - from telling all the way to co-creating. The additional challenge with co-creating is the size of the group. One team is within 10 people, while multiple teams may be dozens, hundreds and thousands of people. Is it feasible to co-create with everybody? Large-group facilitation techniques are helpful. Nevertheless, it does take more time and effort. Is it desirable to co-create with everybody? The active involvement from co-creating would help set free the collective aspiration. However, in order to create a better product vision, it also requires that those people involved have the necessary capabilities such as understanding of users and markets, critical thinking, and etc.

An alternative to co-create with everybody is through product community, where team representatives would participate. In a way, PO team in LeSS Huge could be viewed as the beginning of product community. We may gradually expand PO team and turn it into a product community.

In this case, we don't really have any PO either - neither overall PO nor APOs. Teams and communities co-create product vision, with the support from coaches and facilitators. Do we have this kind of organization in reality? Yes, check out those teal organizations described in the book "Reinventing Organizations".

In the next article, we shall look at how shared vision relates to organization.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2020 listed from newest to oldest.

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