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Product Development Journey Markers

  1. 1 Confidential │ ©2020 VMware, Inc. Product Development Journey Health Markers
  2. Confidential │ ©2020 VMware, Inc. Successful product development organizations continuously deliver value. Continuous delivery of value becomes challenging when organizations grow and/or are constrained. Successful organizations retro & repair, reflecting on questions like: What challenges are we experiencing? What constraints exist? How might we improve?
  3. Confidential │ ©2020 VMware, Inc. 3 Successful product development organizations prioritize improvement in five areas: ● Practitioner enablement: People have the tools, skills, information and resources needed to expeditiously deliver their best ● Balanced teams: We value cross-discipline communication and team representation to drive speedy decision making, lean solutions, and diversity of strengths, skills, and perspective. ● Aligned intent: We benefit from total alignment of all layers of the organization on the results that matter most ● Evidence-based funding of value: We invest in opportunities for value, based on evidence versus risky assumptions that can create waste ● Learning organization: “Infinite learners” are pervasive throughout the organization; feedback & evidence drives decisions.
  4. Confidential │ ©2020 VMware, Inc. Practitioner Enablement We believe that enabling ourselves to teach the skills to build modern software products will result in sustainably and self-sufficiently scaling up our teams to meet business demand. We will know we have succeeded when our teams are able to onboard new colleagues and enable them with essential skills with minimal disruption to their current velocity. 1 Enablement: Heavy reliance on external sources of “resources” Enablement: Provides minimal or no organizationally supported training Career path: Advancement is limited or ad-hoc 2 Enablement: Practitioners struggle to find time for education or enablement Enablement: Begins to shift the balance of practitioners from contracted to in-house Career path: People are rewarded for the hours they put in rather than the outcomes they help deliver 3 Enablement: Leadership actively manages priorities to allow for enablement of new capabilities Enablement: Cross-team rotations are occurring to allow for further enablement 4 Enablement: Core practice talks, experience reports, and tech talks are happening regularly Career path: Practice leaders are starting to emerge and are being encouraged to grow from management 5 Career path: Objective criteria (e.g., Capabilities Scorecards) have been created, reviewed with leadership, and used to shape the career paths of practitioners Career path: Sharing and teaching are highlighted in senior practitioner career path Enablement: New hires can become enablement leaders themselves within a reasonable time frame
  5. Confidential │ ©2020 VMware, Inc. Balanced Teams We believe that small, cross- disciplinary, empowered teams with the skills to iteratively take a product from concept to production will result in faster time to market and realization of business value with less risk. We will know we have succeeded when our company can observe a market condition and react to deliver business value without dependency on external resources. 1 Team balance: Organized as, e.g., separate role-based workgroups (development, QA, operations) Team balance: Individual “heroics” are recognized and rewarded, formally or informally Working environment: Can’t get space or equipment; make do with repurposed and workaround resources 2 Team balance: Developers form the basis of teams, with product management and/or product design underrepresented; product managers and/or product designers are often stretched across multiple projects Team balance: Often groups like security, release management, compliance, data, etc., are not involved Team balance: Has identified product managers, product designers, and developers to form a balanced team 3 Team balance: Dedicated points-of-contact are identified from groups like security, release management, compliance, data, etc., and actively participate Working environment: Updated facilities support collocated balanced teams and pairing; some requests still require senior-level intervention 4 Team balance: Specializations like security, compliance, release management, data become embedded within portfolios 5 Team balance: Product leaders outside balanced teams understand and provide for the needs of balanced teams Working environment: Modern spaces serve full range of teams’ needs; little or no friction to get needed resources
  6. Confidential │ ©2020 VMware, Inc. Total Aligned Intent We believe that alignment between leaders and our teams will result in self-organized, empowered teams capable of acting with autonomy to deliver business value with minimal guardrails. We will know we have succeeded when product teams prioritize based on business outcomes and stakeholders engage via metrics and learnings rather than status updates. 1 Decentralized decision-making/cascading intent: Hard to see how project roadmaps support any broader company vision Decentralized decision-making/cascading intent: Priorities disconnected between leadership not directly connected to broader vision Decentralized decision-making/cascading intent: Leaders compete for resources/backlog priority 2 Decentralized decision-making/cascading intent: Senior leadership articulates a mission and objectives Decentralized decision-making/cascading intent: Practitioners struggle to relate what they are contributing to a mission or vision; leaders are frustrated by perceived “lack of urgency” 3 Decentralized decision-making/cascading intent: Senior leaders communicate north star & metrics; teams have some limited flexibility to act in that direction Decentralized decision-making/cascading intent: Portfolio-level objectives are set and can be tied back to the company mission and objectives 4 Decentralized decision-making/cascading intent: Teams are consistently empowered to change tactics within product strategy 5 Decentralized decision-making/cascading intent: Incentive structure and goals match north star and drive aligned action Decentralized decision-making/cascading intent: ICs can trace the work they are doing back to the leaders’ intent, metrics, and vision; leaders can map outcomes to product teams Decentralized decision-making/cascading intent: Teams are consistently empowered to challenge strategy to achieve desired business outcomes
  7. Confidential │ ©2020 VMware, Inc. Evidence-Based Funding of Value We believe that funding work based on learnings from experiments will result in better & earlier product outcomes. We’ll know we have succeeded when we are funding work in response to market changes in real time. 1 Value streams: Software is secondary to the organization’s perceived core business elsewhere; teams are “order-takers.” Value streams: IT seen as cost center function focusing on maintenance ROI: Budgets are for *projects* with relative value ROI: Budgets require detail on what will be built ROI: Assumptions going into budget requests are noted, but no work to validate assumptions 2 Value streams: Project stakeholders interact infrequently with software delivery teams (e.g., quarterly, but not between) ROI: Teams see success as executing on requirements, believing business value decisions have been made elsewhere ROI: Teams are asked to have metrics in place, and a definition of success (but not regularly asked to share) 3 Team stability: Durable teams are formed around products vs projects (continuous investment in value delivery) Value streams: Software delivery and its funding sponsors are aligned, with coordinated finances and decision-making ROI: Teams are empowered to ask for input for business-value-based backlog prioritization ROI: Teams run experiments to invalidate or validate risky assumptions ROI: Leaders ask questions about learnings based on evidence from experiments 4 Value streams: Funding sponsors are active participants in well-run, regular lean governance meetings, where product direction is validated and critical decisions are made Value streams: Organization is funding valued products, versus disparate projects ROI: Teams are consistently held accountable for delivering high-value product outcomes (and learnings that de-risk product are counted, too). 5 ROI: Products and product teams are humming along, delivering continuous value in terms of learnings to validate problem-solution, product-market or market-scale fit
  8. Confidential │ ©2020 VMware, Inc. Learning Organization We believe that constantly incorporating feedback into decision-making will result in a culture of continuous improvement for both processes and products. We will know we have succeeded when our leaders measure success in terms of outcomes over outputs. 1 User adoption/feedback: Annual surveys done; results eventually make their way to product teams via next year’s project plans Leaders willing to change: Internal feedback takes the form of “suggestions” which are rarely, if ever, acted upon 2 User adoption/feedback: Reactive feedback from users is absorbed by teams after release and used to influence medium-term iterations of products, typically within a quarter Leaders willing to change: Seeks to use the perceived success of other companies as a predefined “handbook” for change 3 User adoption/feedback: User feedback is key component to build, measure, learn cycle to continually lower risk Experimentation safety: Conversations around psychological safety occur and Leaders willing to change: the organization puts structures in place to foster candid input from contributors at all levels 4 Leaders willing to change: Learns from their own experience and history, learns from experiences and best practices of others Leaders willing to change: Org structure changes to support new learnings (HR, Finance) User adoption/feedback: Both leaders and teams take action to course-correct based on data 5 Leaders willing to change: Adept at translating new knowledge into new ways of behaving Leaders willing to change: Fundamental shift in the way that business and IT celebrate; business rallies people across the organization around this new way of working and the vision, and invites others to participate Experimentation safety: Individuals feel safe taking risks; “failures” are valued as a means of purchasing information