by Tom & Kai Gilb
(who we are)
We typically have many, and varied, sources of support for reaching our own objectives. Teams, contractors, consultants, Scrum teams etc. Let’s call any instance that helps us reach our own objectives, our ‘support team’.
I have worked in projects where the 'support team' that were meant to deliver to me, did not. Where I had responsibility to deliver value to my stakeholders, but my ‘support team’ did not deliver what I needed to me. The ‘support team’ created and delivered something, but not what I needed from them. Frustrating would be an understatement. As I ended up not being able to deliver as agreed.
First I recommend that we improve, not the ‘support team’. It is easy to point to the ‘support team’ and claim they are ineffective. But almost always I find that the main problems lie with us. We are unclear. We have not expressed clearly enough what success is, so they don’t know, don’t deliver.
We need to clearly express what success is with our objectives, and what the ‘support team’ is expected to deliver. They must know exactly what their responsibilities are, what is expected of them.
If they don’t know, they cannot be effective.
If we change, even a few details of our objectives: they should be informed, so they can change their support correspondingly.
If we hide our objectives, or we formulate them unclearly: then we are responsible for our ‘support team’s’ lack of ability to serve our interests.
If we tell them ‘how’ to do it (the means to our objective), rather than simply telling them ‘how well' it must work (in terms of our objectives); we bear responsibility for our choice, so be conscious of it. Normally, tell them ‘how well' it must work, and let them figure out ‘how’!
They should agree, or clearly disagree, that they will support reaching some of our objectives, to some degree.
They should be able to show a credible (numeric, experiential, guaranteed) relationship between their activity, and how it is helping us reach our objectives.
They should be able to show measurable numeric progress, at least using leading indicators, that their plans are working in practice. Early and frequently.
They should expect credibility and rewards, based, not on what they have done – with good intent – but what they have delivered of our objectives.
Outside contractors should be prepared to put their money where their mouth is, and base payment on our results, not just their effort.
Ask yourself, and ask others:
What are we expecting, of results on the success objectives at the level above us?
Have we written that claim explicitly?
Have we documented who made the claim?
Have we documented who is ‘result responsible’ for getting to the objectives?
All actions/tasks/work/efforts, must be explicitly targeted to reach the numeric objectives above.
When objectives change, the ‘support team’ must be notified immediately, so they can change accordingly.
‘Support teams’ should be evaluated on their ability to deliver higher level objectives within limited resources.
I find that this value chain at most places is DisConnected. Please share your ideas/observations/thoughts, in the comments below, on how to better connect the value chain. How do we ensure that people delivering to us deliver what we need, and that we develop and deliver what our customers need?
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