10 questions that you’ll be crazy NOT to ask before starting a project! (Agile 2012)

A great session by Jonathan Rasmusson talking about “10 questions that you’ll be crazy not to ask before starting a project“. There is a full description on his blog http://agilewarrior.wordpress.com/ but just use the link in the title.Jonathan is the author of The Agile Samurai (a great book).

It’s really about Seeking alignment and awareness and consensus before starting our projects and getting rapid feedback in this process by collaboration with customers. It is much harder to get alignment, awareness and consensus after project start that when you are getting started. It also helps the hole team to understand objectives and reasoning for these chooses.

Jonathan’s question was: “How can we do everything right and still get it wrong?”

And he answers with “We are not all aligned – we don’t understand the end product the same…. Assumption: we are at the same page as we start the project but we are not!!!

It really that same as the product vision statement that I’ve learned at the Product Owner class with Roman Pichler. I liked it a lot and there was a great energy in the room.

Command of topics was and my notes:

1. Why Are We Here?

  • Why are we using these money on making this……….why, why, why, why……
  • How to understand the WHY -> GO and SEE – Gemba

2. Create an Elevator Pitch

  • For [target]
  • who [statement need]
  • the [name of thing] 
  • is a [product category]
  • that [benefit, compelling reason to buy]
  • unlike [competitors]
  • our product [differentiator]

3. Design a Product Box (COT)

  • Kmake a product box. Why? Because you can visualize what it would be to go into a store and take down the box of your coming product…. What will it look like (marketing and what features?

4. Create a NOT List

  • What is NOT in and What is OUT and unresolved. (defined as high level user stories)
  • what is our success criteria!

5. Meet Your Neighbors

  • The community is much bigger that you think.
  • Make a stakeholder list. (eg. Stakeholder map).
  • Define team “boundaries” make and integration plan (communication plan)

6. Show the Solution (High level Architecture)

  • “You pick your architecture when you pick the team!”

7. Ask What Keeps Us Up at Night

  • Anything that scares you? – Your risk slide J
  • How to deal with all the craziness?

8. Size It Up

  • Story point / t-shirt size???? We don’t know – but we need a budget – is it 1, 3 or 6 month?
  • High level user stories
  • Do what you can for making this estimate -> geestimates on Master story list.
  • Make a release plan / project plan I big numbers.
  • No project is over 6 months! Randy Mud….(Walmart, dell, HP)

9. Be Clear on What’s Going to Give  (Clear scope)

  • Too much to do and not enough time
  • The furious four (Time, Budget, Quality, Scope)
  • Trade-off sliders  (on…………….|…………….|…………..|…………off) on the benefits of the project…like “reduce call center traffic by 30% or increase conversion by 20%..
  • U2 style = with or without you (who is going to make the decision – the manager or the team)

10. Show What It’s Going to Take

  • Draw the whole picture and price
  • Be clear on your team with this kind of skill set
  • Clarify who’s calling the shots

As an excise at the talk we did group workshop at agile 2012 we went though all questions for a made up product. Great  excise :-) – Thanks Jonathan.

Just to let you in on some of the fun there happens spontaneously one of the work groups answered his excise by submitting the product “Dating site for DEVELOPERS – ONLY”

“Geek dating geeks”

Some of the features was

  • No pictures
  • ASCII text
  • Must commit code for validation
  • and more ;-)
This was really funny :-)

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