Table of contents
- OMV Template
- Case study: Kicking off a project
- Case study: Maintaining direction with OMV
- Example OMV report
- Resources and credits
- About the Author
Purpose, mission, and vision enable you to find the path forward in any situation you and your team find yourselves in. You’ve likely read numerous articles on how to use them to set direction or motivate your team after a setback.
However, there’s a crucial and difficult step often missing in these discussions. Before you can master the ability to leverage purpose to drive something—a team, project, or anything else—you first need to articulate it.
How can you identify the things that matter most and corral your focus there?
At Stride Consulting, one of the most lightweight and effective techniques we use to do so is OMV: objectives, measures, and values. I initially learned Alan Weiss’s OMV framework through the Agile Fluency Project. It’s my go-to tool with clients—or stakeholders, if you’re working internally within a company—at the outset of a project.
In practice, the OMV framework can help you get your team aligned in a single 60-minute session.
Let’s break down each piece of OMV and how to use it.
To start, guide your clients or stakeholders to enumerate the objectives they want to achieve. Dig deep to identify outcomes, not deliverables.
An example of a bad objective is “Build a new, more reliable release pipeline,” because it’s a specific deliverable. It doesn’t state why delivering that is important.
A better version of that objective would be “Improve time to deploy.” A brand new deployment infrastructure is only one way to achieve that business objective, but a team can likely identify more bang-for-their-buck means with the latter version. For example, they may achieve this objective by releasing in smaller batches, improving logging, or hardening testing.
Next, help them isolate measures that can gauge whether progress is being made. This is often the hardest part for newer teams or companies. Oftentimes for new teams, they’re still in the process of isolating what the meaningful metrics are. For new companies, they often haven’t had the time to invest in tooling for consistent measurement.
For such scenarios where objective metrics aren’t feasible, don’t hesitate to proxy it. Sometimes just entrusting an individual decision maker to serve as the evaluator of success is enough.
The goal is to ensure that both sides are aligned on how to evaluate progress over the term of the project.
Lastly, connect your objectives to the value that they help your client or your stakeholders realize. This step is the most value-additive in the entire framework—no pun intended. Disparate stakeholders can differ in their evaluation of the relative importance of individual objectives. They tend to see eye-to-eye much more quickly on the relative importance of the value generated for the organization.
By tying each identified objective to the value it delivers, you enable a client (or set of stakeholders) to arrive at a shared view of which objective needs to be tackled first.
If you’ve read this far, I’m guessing you’re curious to try out this tool for yourself!
Here is a lightweight OMV template built-in Google Slides that you can use as is or customize to your liking. Just create your own copy and OMV away!
Case Study: Kicking off a project
Let’s walk through how I shaped my last engagement with OMV, to illustrate how impactful it can be.
One of our recent clients was a fast-growing SaaS startup that came to us with a wide-ranging slate of partnership opportunities. Our client had a complex product, rapidly expanding market opportunity, and a severely taxed implementations group that was racing to keep up with demand. Their implementations group engaged us to help them scale their approach to integrations. Given their cross-functional nature, there were several competing dimensions and directions they wanted to pursue.
I quickly leaned on OMV to guide us to develop—and maintain—a worthwhile engagement strategy. To start, we helped each team within the implementations group articulate their needs by guiding them to craft clear objectives.
As we discussed earlier, objectives are not deliverables, they’re outcomes. For example, people in different disciplines can easily align on the need for testing in a complicated integration environment, whereas a discussion about building an automated testing tool might not be as inviting to folks from distant disciplines. By shifting the focus to outcomes over deliverables, each functional group was able to contribute to shaping the end goal without needing a ton of context.
Our next step was to come up with at least one measure per objective. This part fulfilled a dual purpose for us. It not only gave us clarity and a shared means to evaluate any project we ended up taking on with the client, but also it aided them in transitioning to talking in outcomes. It’s much harder to come up with a numerical measure for a deliverable. Usually, this is a binary value—you either release everything on time or you don’t.
The final step was the most important. By tying each objective to the value it realized for their company, we gave our prospective client a shared language to use in negotiating trade-offs and prioritizing those objectives. It helped us understand their context in a speedy fashion. Most importantly, it immediately offered value to the client by enabling their internal teams to align on a priority order across each of their individual mandates!
Facilitating the OMV discussion was one of the most valuable services we provided. We took a fraught situation and simplified it to a constructive conversation that yielded an agreed-upon roadmap for us to execute on.
Case Study: Maintaining direction
We encountered one obstacle or surprise after another during the months following the initial OMV conversation. Bumping up against unknown unknowns is an inevitability for most projects. At each one of those junctures, we returned to our initial OMV artifact to facilitate a conversation around how to deal with the blocker of the day.
In one instance, we quickly decided to reduce scope when faced with an unforeseen capacity constraint from the client. We were able to do so because, given our outcome-based approach, we knew our objective could still be achieved without it.
In another instance, we were able to quickly course-correct to start a completely new initiative despite having already invested a number of weeks into the current one. We were able to demonstrate that the initial idea wasn’t moving the needle on our predefined measure.
In each case, the continuity and focus that referencing our OMV artifact provided was invaluable in keeping us aligned with our client stakeholders. We not only course-corrected in real time but also were able to do so with every one of our wide-ranging stakeholders’ being confident that we were moving in the right direction and working on the most valuable thing.
Example OMV Report
In practice, the OMV framework can help get your team aligned in a single 60-minute session and set your team and project up for immediate and long-term success.
To give you a better understanding of the value derived from this framework, we’re offering a sample 5 page OMV report we created for a client after running an OMV workshop with them.
This report presented this client an elegant map into the best path forward to guiding their team towards better customer focus, fewer defects, and more predictable delivery of customer facing features.
If you haven’t already, get a copy of the OMV template we built for you to try out.
Email me if you have any questions about getting started with the OMV framework. I would love to be a resource to you!
Resources and credits
- Objectives, Measures, Values (OMV) Template
- Example 5 page OMV report
- Shareable version of this OMV Guidebook
This work is derived from Alan Weiss and The Agile Fluency® Model by Diana Larsen and James Shore which provides the conceptual model for how Stride uses this framework with client teams to develop investment cases and roadmaps.
About the author
Vishal is a lead product consultant at Stride Consulting.
He has been practicing product management for eight years and has worked with teams at NS1, Cedar Health, Knewton, and The Credit Junction.