Rhythm, Focus, and Vision - How To Fix Your Broken Product and Delivery Process (Part 3)

This blog is the final installment of a 3-part series outlining the road to recovery for teams with a broken delivery process: Rhythm, Focus, and Vision. You can read part one here and part two here.

Once we have Rhythm and Focus, we can layer on Vision.

If there’s one thing I hate (other than those new Facebook mid-roll ads), it’s yearly roadmaps. CFOs love them (and for good reason), but there is no more difficult time horizon for product people. A year usually isn’t enough to realize a full product vision, but it’s plenty of time for your product and business to shift in unpredictable ways.

I am a big fan of the 6 weeks/6 months/6 years framework for product strategy and vision. You almost certainly know what you’re doing in your next few sprints (which speaks to your Rhythm), and you should be able to see a quarter or two out, at least in terms of what you expect your Focus to be and what results you can drive. Your long term product vision should be something quite different.

I find it helps to tie your product vision to a “high-five moment”. Five or six years from now, you’re sitting around the office popping champagne and shopping for the latest Tesla because your product turned out to be a home run beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. What happened? What did you build that produced this amazing outcome? Who bought it? Why? What opportunities and what customers did you capture that your competitors didn’t? What core principles were instrumental in getting you there?

The nice thing about a vision is that it’s aspirational and inspirational — you don’t know exactly how to get there but you can imagine a path, and the destination sounds nice. And it’s impossible to think in terms of tactics -- you have to formulate goals and give everybody the room to imagine how they will deliver results to match. This is the essential insight behind OKRs and similar frameworks -- if you articulate the objective, the results will follow, often in ways you can’t predict.

The reason I like to delay vision until rhythm and focus have been achieved is that it’s hard to get people excited about the future when the present is the real challenge. Ideally every team would start with a clean slate and a clear vision of what they stand for and where they want to go, but if you put an amazing vision in front of a demoralized team who doesn’t feel like they can build their way out of a paper bag, you will find yourselves running in circles.

Delivering great software is never easy, but the most important success factor is the conditions you create around your team. Developing a solid Rhythm, followed by laser-like customer Focus and capped off with an inspirational Vision, can take any delivery team from zero to hero, and enable your business to get the most out of what is likely its most expensive and challenging asset.

Interested in more ways to help your team succeed? For Agile teams, leveraging your sprint retrospective is a great place to start. Our free eBook shows you how to properly facilitate these meetings to get results. Download it today by clicking here.