Have you ever tried piecing together a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the final picture should look like? Knowing what the outcome should be can guide you in reaching product success.
Understanding the Product Goal, aligning with stakeholders, and keeping a pristine Product Backlog is akin to having a completed picture of your project. If you understand and follow it meticulously, it becomes the linchpin of success. Join us as we dissect this pivotal triad and its influence on project success.
Defining the triad
Let’s begin by looking at the triad. In Agile Product Management, the triad (often compared to a 3-legged stool)refers to the integral relationship between the Product Goal, stakeholders, and the Product Backlog. Together, they form a collaborative framework that guides, refines, and drives the direction and success of a project.
This is the first “leg” of the triad stool. You wouldn’t attempt to drive cross-country without a map or GPS. That's a Scrum product without a Product Goal. The Product Goal gives direction and purpose to the entire endeavor. We're referring to this goal when we speak of the 'why' behind a product. It's the reason the product exists and the ultimate accomplishment the team strives for.
These folks make up the second leg of the stool. They have a vested interest in your product. Stakeholders can range from those who use your product daily (end-users) to the top-tier executives who've invested time, money, and trust in your vision.
They can provide valuable feedback, chip in with essential resources, and continuously support the product evolution. They have “skin in the game” and play an indispensable role in shaping and refining your product's journey.
The final leg of the stool is the Product Backlog. If the Product Goal is the 'why' and stakeholders help shape the 'how,' the Product Backlog is the 'what.' It's your master to-do list.
Your Product Backlog needs to be clear, ordered, and always evolving. It lists every currently known work item, feature, and/or enhancement necessary to make the Product Goal a reality.
The power of a clear Product Goal
Without clarity on the Product Goal, teams can drift aimlessly. Every effort needs a rallying point that guides actions and decisions. The Product Goal is so central that it can make or break your team's momentum. Product Owners can use the Product Goal and experiments to help guide future development.
The pitfall of ambiguity
How can teams know they’re going down the quickest, most advantageous path? They might be working hard, but the lack of direction can cause them to waste effort, misalign priorities, and spin their wheels. They must seek clarity. Remember, one of the twelve principles supporting the Agile Manifesto is “Simplicity is the art of maximizing the amount of work not done.”
A clear roadmap saves time and ensures that every effort is channeled in the right direction.
The magic of purposeful action
When the Product Goal is crystal clear, it's like someone turned on a giant spotlight on a dark stage. Every work item undertaken—coding, designing, or testing—is charged with purpose. The team isn't just going through the motions that may or may not help reach the goal. They're part of the broader narrative.
With a well-defined purpose, every action becomes closer to the ultimate objective and eliminates the haze of uncertainty.
Building a mission-driven company culture
A transparent Product Goal does more than streamline tasks; it fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie among team members. When everyone knows the "why" behind their actions, it cultivates a mission-driven mindset, making collaborations more effective and the journey more enjoyable.
When purpose becomes the foundation of a company's culture, it leads to deeper connections, increased motivation, and an environment where everyone thrives.
Stakeholders: Not just passive observers
Stakeholders are vital in refining the Product Goal and providing regular feedback. Keeping them engaged and informed is more than just a courteous gesture; it's a Scrum necessity.
Who are the stakeholders?
Stakeholders might seem like a formal term for many people somewhat interested in your product. In reality, they can be anyone from the end-users of your product, team members, and investors to senior executives. Each has a distinct perspective and a vested interest in the product’s success.
How stakeholders help refine the vision
Stakeholders are contributors. Their insights, stemming from various backgrounds and expertise, play a key role in shaping the Product Goal. They can identify gaps, offer innovative solutions, and provide feedback the core development team might overlook.
The stakeholder feedback loop
In the Scrum approach, iterative development and feedback go hand in hand. Stakeholders provide that feedback. Regular interactions with them ensure the product evolves in the right direction, meeting both market demands and user needs.
Keeping stakeholders engaged and in the loop is a strategic move. An informed stakeholder can be a powerful ally, championing the product, facilitating resources, and sometimes helping avoid challenges caused by organizational dynamics.
Recognizing and leveraging their expertise is not just an Agile best practice. It can drive your product development goals faster and smoother.
The need for a transparent Product Backlog
The Product Backlog is a repository for ideas, features, and tasks required to bring the Product Goal to life. A murky backlog can quickly lead to misaligned priorities and wasted efforts. When this backlog becomes cluttered or ambiguous, there's a heightened risk of straying off course. Misaligned priorities and uncoordinated efforts lead to wasted resources and time.
Transparency in the backlog means that every item listed is clear, comprehensible, and meticulously prioritized. This clarity ensures that each task directly contributes to the overarching Product Goal. Such a streamlined approach drives efficiency and ensures the team works harmoniously towards a shared vision.
How triad influences Agile practices
In Agile, these three components aren't standalone; they intertwine. Each one influences and is influenced by the others. For example:
● As the Product Goal evolves and becomes more refined, the Product Backlog must be adjusted to keep both aligned.
● Stakeholder feedback can instigate changes, potentially leading to a recalibration of the Product Goal.
● The Product Backlog’s state and progress can offer valuable insights into how well the team resonates with the Product Goal and stakeholder expectations. A rapidly clearing backlog indicates alignment, while consistent bottlenecks might suggest a disconnect.
This fluid relationship ensures that the Agile process remains adaptable and responsive. Recognizing and interconnection is necessary, as it helps make efficient progress towards project success.
Getting to know your stakeholders
Each stakeholder brings diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and expectations to the table. Invest time in understanding their needs, concerns, and how they envision the Product Goal.
Identify their needs, actively listen to their concerns, and seek clarity on their vision of the Product Goal.
Building this rapport fosters trust and ensures you're developing a product that resonates with the most important ones.
Refining the Product Backlog
A Product Backlog isn’t something you set and forget. Revisit, reassess, and refine it continually. This iterative process ensures that the backlog remains transparent, relevant, and, most importantly, in sync with the ever-evolving Product Goal and the input from stakeholders.
Embracing continuous refinement ensures that every effort aligns with the larger vision and facilitates agile success.
Measuring Product Success
How do you know you're on the right track? Use tangible metrics and observations to gauge your performance.
Four helpful indicators that assure you're moving in the right direction are:
- Stakeholder satisfaction. Regular surveys or feedback sessions can provide insights into stakeholder sentiments. Key performance indicators (KPIs) here could include stakeholder Net Promoter Score (NPS) or satisfaction ratings post-release.
2. Customer Usage Index. Measurement of usage by feature to help infer the degree to which customers find the product useful and whether actual usage meets expectations on how long users should take with a feature.
3. Customer or User Satisfaction Gap. The difference between a customer or user’s desired experience and their current experience.
4. Market Share. The relative percentage of the market not controlled by the product; the potential market share that the product might achieve if it better met customer needs.
These indicators help you track your product's trajectory and preemptively address areas needing recalibration, ensuring a smooth and effective journey toward your objectives.
Stepping stones for triad mastery
Measuring success is paramount. However, true art lies in mastering the foundational elements that drive it. Below are the essential steps that lead to a mastery of the triad.
Regular input can illuminate areas of improvement and affirm what's working well.
Routinely check the clarity and relevance of your Product Goal to ensure it remains the guiding force.
Active stakeholder engagement
Foster open channels of communication and involve stakeholders in crucial decision-making processes.
Maintain and refine the Product Backlog.
Ensure that your product backlog remains transparent, with periodic refinements to align it with the evolving Stakeholders' needs.
By religiously following these guidelines, you'll easily handle the triad and ensure every step you take positively impacts the project.
Create successful projects with the triad.
In Agile/Scrum, understanding the intrinsic link between the Product Goal, stakeholders, and a transparent Product Backlog is the key to unlocking product development success. Don't get stressed out and frustrated if you’ve been feeling like you're piecing together that jigsaw puzzle without the bigger picture. Reach out to John Gillespie for coaching or to schedule a Product Backlog Management workshop, and let's turn that puzzle into a masterpiece.