Learning never stops

Books

3 new paperback entries for my library 🙂

Although I don’t have as much time as I want for it, I like to read as learning is a powerful source of inspiration and knowledge.

While I do have many books in electronic format, I enjoy more the feeling of reading and learning from the paperback ones. Electronic books sometimes just feel like navigating and scanning through the content.

If product management or Scrum topics are of interest for you the above titles will make a very nice lecture.

Enjoy!

#productmanagement #scrum #martycagan #jeffsutherland #danolsen #leanproductplaybook #inspired #mvp #productmarketfit

10000

Photo credits: goodgamestudios

Or the power of social media

This is the number of views for my content in January this year, on one social media platform (LinkedIn). If I add the views from Facebook or the website the number is way higher.

Is 10000 a number to talk about? For me it is, as in the entire last year I had less views.

So what changed?

I looked for advice, from people with far more experience in earning their paycheck from social media, and started to adopt their suggestions on how to generate more view, likes, shares, comments and in the end money.

On the same time, I published and shared only my content, so I stopped sharing the content generated by other people. I still hit the like button for their writings, but I no longer share it.

I progressed with the visual identity, as a creative branding process makes the brand much more interesting and attractive.

There is still a lot of work to be done regarding my social media and online presence, but it is important that there is progress.

Someday the view, likes, shares and comments will be transformed in consultancy contracts.

Until then just keep going 🙂

#entrepreneurship #businessdevelopment #socialmedia

2019 Plans and challenges

Plans and challenges

2019 is the year in which I plan to invest more time and budget in developing my own brand. For doing this I have a vision, strategy and, of course, a roadmap.

The top 5 items on my roadmap are:

  1. Branding: activities are in progress, the visual identity creation of my brand is shaping up.
  2. Social Media presence:
    1. LinkedIn: improved the look and feel of my page, added new posts so that the number of followers increases and I extend the reach of my target audience.
    2. Facebook: created and customized my FB page (consistent look and feel with my LinkedIn), added posts having as goal a high number of followers and an extended reach of my target audience. LinkedIn and Facebook platforms have common target audiences, but as there are also different target segments present it is important for me to same information shared on both platforms.
  3. Online presence: started my own website, which will be the main online content source from now on. I will still distribute the articles on the social media platforms. Website customization will follow, so in time it will look nicer and nicer.
  4. Online content: created posts and articles which are more easy to read, and it takes less time to read them. I see an important increase in the number of views, at least, since I started to adapt more my content towards the needs of my target audience.
  5. Sales and marketing: content is mainly created, visuals will follow.

And, as in most of the cases when you have a plan or idea to implement, there are at least 3 challenges for making things happen:

  1. Available time
  2. Available budget
  3. First signed contract

After all, no great achievement has been accomplished with the smallest possible effort. Let’s get this rollin’!

As always, sharing is caring 🙂
#entrepreneurship #businessdevelopment #dotherightthing #planning

Business analysis courses

Are you looking to make a change in your career to a business analyst role and you don’t know where to start from or if you have the proper skills?

Luckily for you, business analysis courses are part of my services catalogue @Iulian Stoica Product Management & Scrum.

Start your business analyst career NOW.

#mentoring #teaching #learningcommunities

On workflows simplification

As a business analyst, one of my main responsibilities is to help organisations to #streamline processes and to simplify workflows. Naturally, this “gift” is working also outside work activities.

For example when I pay online my utility bills on the utility provider website. It’s all nice and easy until you find some options which are there to make your life easier but actually they don’t. So I have the option to add my credit card details in my account, with the purpose of not typing them for each payment.

Brilliant.

What happens after I add one card and proceed to make a payment? There are two additional payment types and one of them is selected by default. So not the card I already added, although I added it for being used in payments so in my opinion it should be selected by default.

It may be acceptable not having it selected by default on the first payment or two payments, but afterwards, I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be selected by default.

Workflows simplification is one of the core principles of my work. #userexperience #userinterfacedesign

Save our clicks 🙂

Thoughts on the cost of delay

In each company, there is a rush in having innovative ideas brought up and implemented. When it comes to implementing those ideas there are huge delays in the time to market and for this reason, rival companies already release similar products or features. As a consequence, a lot of great ideas are wasted and the enthusiasm to innovate and improve is heavily diminished.

But how are companies making sure that the valuable ideas are implemented quickly and their capacity to innovate is not wasted? The answer to this question is using proper prioritization techniques.

There are a couple of techniques available out there:

1)     Moscow -> Functionalities are split into four groups: Must have, Should have, Could have, Would have. Although it sounds pretty straightforward, using this technique most of the items and categorized with Must have, meaning they all have to be implemented. So, if this technique isn’t used properly it will not be very helpful

2)     Equity -> This technique is based on fairness. The development budget is allocated to departments, stakeholders and large projects. The assumption is that the proportions allocated will deliver the most long-term value for the organization as a whole. Yet this situation rarely happens.

3)     HiPPO -> Prioritization is driven by the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. With this technique, the development teams consider that their work doesn’t make sense on many occasions, but since the management made promises about it needs to be completed.

4)     Cost of Delay Divided by Duration (CDD) -> This technique was developed by Black Swan Farming. It is a way of communicating the impact of time on the outcomes we hope to achieve. Cost of Delay combines urgency and value – two things that humans are not very good at distinguishing between. To make decisions, we need to understand not just how valuable something is, but how urgent it is.

An explanatory video about Cost of Delay can be found here.

The creators of this technique implemented a new process for managing requirements. They created a backlog of features, initially at the project level, but later at the program and the portfolio levels named Dynamic Priority List. The features in the list were prioritized using the Cost of Delay method.

Cost of Delay is considered to be a framework for decentralizing economic decisions.

In high-performing organizations, leadership and management have a sharp focus on the value the organization is creating for its customers. Cost of Delay provides a way to measure the value of time, enabling teams to make transparent prioritization decisions. By quantifying the value of the work we are doing, we can avoid doing low-value work. If we limit work in process across the value stream and only work on the highest-value tasks, we can rapidly reduce time-to-market for work which is the highest value to our customers.

For a better understanding of this technique let’s consider the following example, having 2 features which need to be prioritized:

·        Feature A – Implementation time of 2 weeks, Cost of Delay is 25.000 euro per week

·        Feature B – Implementation time of 1 week, Cost of Delay is 10.000 euro per week

Possible scenarios:

Scenario 1. Implement Feature A first, means that Feature B will not be implemented for 2 weeks resulting in a Cost of Delay of 20.000 euro

Scenario 2. Implement Feature B first, means that Feature A will not be implemented for 1 week resulting in a Cost of Delay of 25.000 euro

Scenario 3. Implement Feature A and Feature B in parallel, means that Feature A will be delayed with 1 week and Feature B will be delayed with 1 week resulting in a Cost of Delay of 35.000 euro

In this example using the Cost of Delay technique the Scenario 1 is the preferred option.

By calculating Cost of Delay for each feature, we no longer rely only on a Product Owner to estimate the business value for the stories in the backlog, which is a limited way to prioritize since constant recalculations are needed in order to take into account the time sensitivity of business value.

Instead, given that we have limited capacity, we think of prioritization as choosing what to delay.

When development capacity becomes available, the team simply picks the item with the highest delay cost at that time. This is a key advantage of using Cost of Delay: following the Principle of Mission, it allows everybody in the organization to make rational, transparent economic decisions without the need for command-and-control mechanisms such as onerous reviews, approvals and prioritization by the most senior person in the room.

The Take-Away

Moving from a centralized decision-making system to a decentralized model is most of the times difficult, but the differences in the time to market will be tremendous.

Having difficulties prioritizing development work for your organization? Try using Cost of Delay for once and see the benefits yourself.

See you next time,

Iulian

Thoughts on improvement kata

In martial arts, a kata is “a routine you practice deliberately, so its pattern becomes a habit.” Kata it’s a way of transferring skills and developing the mindset, helping in the translation of concepts into practical reality.        

For sure kata sounds familiar for martial arts enthusiasts but what is Improvement Kata?

The Improvement Kata, as explained by Mike Rother, is a general-purpose framework and a set of practice routines for reaching goals where the path to the goal is uncertain. It requires us to proceed by iterative, incremental steps, using very rapid cycles of experimentation.

This model is described in the Toyota Kata book. The author emphasizes that there aren’t the solutions themselves that provide sustained competitive advantage and long-term survival, but the degree to which an organization has mastered an effective routine for developing fitting solutions again and again, along with unpredictable paths. This requires teaching the skills behind the solution.

For a successful implementation, the Improvement Kata needs to be first adopted by the organization’s management, because it is a management philosophy that focuses on developing the capabilities of those they manage, as well as on enabling the organization to move towards its goals under conditions of uncertainty.

Each organization wants to make continuous improvement a habit so that when faced with an environment in which the path to own goal is uncertain, we have an instinctive, unconscious routine to guide our behaviour.

What does each step in the above diagram represent?

1) Direction or Challenge -> Is derived from the vision set by the organization’s leadership. A good vision is one that is inspiring—and, potentially, unattainable in practice.

2) Grasp the Current Condition -> After we have understood the direction at the organizational and value stream levels, we incrementally and iteratively move towards it at the process level. Rother recommends setting target conditions with a horizon between one week and three months out, with a preference for shorter horizons for beginners.

For teams that are using iterative, incremental methods to perform product development, it makes sense to use the same iteration (or sprint) boundaries for both product development and Improvement Kata iterations. As with alliterative product development methods, Improvement Kata iterations involve a planning part and an execution part. Here, planning involves grasping the current condition at the process level and setting a target condition that we aim to achieve by the end of the next iteration.

3) Establish the Next Target Condition -> A target condition identifies the process being addressed, sets the date by which we aim to achieve the specified condition, and specifies measurable details of the process as we want it to exist. Examples of target conditions include WIP (work in progress) limits, the implementation of Kanban or a continuous integration process, the number of good builds we expect to get per day, and so forth.

4) Iterate Toward the Target Condition -> Since we are engaging in process innovation in conditions of uncertainty, we cannot know in advance how we will achieve the target condition. It’s up to the people doing the work to run a series of experiments using the Deming cycle (plan, do, check, act).

The Take-Away

“If you go through the Improvement Kata process you’ll get to where you need to get to. And the more times you do it the better you will get at it.” Jim Huntziger [President@Lean Frontiers]

Following the Improvement Kata model increases the capabilities and skills of the people doing the work because it requires them to solve their own problems through a process of continuous experimentation, thus forming an integral part of any learning organization.

Having difficulties embracing Improvement Kata in your organization? Let me know and I will make it happen.

See you next time,

Iulian