Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter

2008-08-12

Step 1: what is it and what is it not?

Before you write one line of code, you should know what you're building? Well, that does not sound very agile, does it? Well, this is not getting into details but creating a product or project vision. The question that needs to be answered is why are we spending all this money and time? What is the objective AND what is NOT the objective. My experience is that besides the most simple solutions the problem is not saying what you're building but drawing the line: here but not beyond! Using the Moore template for a project vision is a good idea. Getting all the known stakeholders together and just specifying it. And don't settle for a novel. When I first asked the original product owner at our team for a project vision I was handed a A4 tightly written sheet. But even so, the limits where not included. It is hard for a salesperson to say which customers we don't want or which processes we won't support.

But this is not a one of occasion - a project vision should be specified for each bigger release of a product or in a project. If you find the Moore project vision boring you can also follow Mike Cohn's advice and produce a poster or a box - if we were packaging this release in a box, how would that look? Force the participants to use the marketing form and don't settle for a simple list. The box or the poster should be able to sell the release to new and old users: why should I buy or take the trouble upgrading?

But shouldn't you select iteration lengths, PO, scrum master and so on first? Well, how do you know who makes the best PO before you know what you're building and do you know which resources are the best? You probably have a good idea before but hopefully, this will make it easier.

The project vision should be something the developers can look at when making the small decisions: how does this bring the project/product closer to the objective. It is easy to aim for a goal but easier to miss it and often enough being close or being very far off is as bad. This is not true for sports like football. By setting a project vision, people hopefully know which goal they should be aiming for.

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