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Dealing with Misaligned Stakeholders

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Dealing with Misaligned Stakeholders

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Presented at #mtpcon APAC

Prioritization is hard, and we HOPE that a clear corporate strategy plus well-considered OKRs will get our internal stakeholders to agree on what’s most important: unambiguous #1 and #2 and #3 priorities. That our spreadsheets and analysis will sell everyone on our plan.
But that rarely happens: Sales wants us to put 100% of our development effort against shiny new features (except when every big deal includes a commitment for some tiny off-off item); Support/Customer Success want 100% against bug fixes and workflow improvements and productivity tools; Engineering lobbies for better architecture and scalability and more refactoring; Marketing wants us to document more use cases in more industries so that we can widen the funnel. We may wait for each department to “see the light” and give up its specific asks in favor of the greater good, but that can be a very long wait.

Presented at #mtpcon APAC

Prioritization is hard, and we HOPE that a clear corporate strategy plus well-considered OKRs will get our internal stakeholders to agree on what’s most important: unambiguous #1 and #2 and #3 priorities. That our spreadsheets and analysis will sell everyone on our plan.
But that rarely happens: Sales wants us to put 100% of our development effort against shiny new features (except when every big deal includes a commitment for some tiny off-off item); Support/Customer Success want 100% against bug fixes and workflow improvements and productivity tools; Engineering lobbies for better architecture and scalability and more refactoring; Marketing wants us to document more use cases in more industries so that we can widen the funnel. We may wait for each department to “see the light” and give up its specific asks in favor of the greater good, but that can be a very long wait.

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Dealing with Misaligned Stakeholders

  1. 1. Dealing with Misaligned Stakeholders (and Why Your Internal Stakeholders Will Almost Always Be Misaligned) Rich Mironov / #mtpcon Digital APAC / 14 April 2021
  2. 2. We want to jump into prioritizing and algorithms but 1. Requests (stories) come in different categories with different metrics and rationale 2. Stakeholders are naturally misaligned, lobby against each other 3. Need overall allocation (strategy) before sorting individual tickets 4. Expect stakeholders to forget, disagree, fight XOR choices Opening Thoughts @RichMironov
  3. 3. • Hard to rank-order unlike items • One more bug versus next minor feature • Deal-specific integration versus UX improvement • Units of ROI are different! • Instead, group similar requests • Which three visible features go into v6.5? • P0, P1, P2, P3… • Deal-specific, single customer • Validation/discovery/experiments Prioritizing Within Buckets
  4. 4. unplanned, deal-driven Quality/fixes, scalability, security, infrastructure, architecture Validation, experiments visible features, UX, upsell, new markets Software Investment Portfolio @RichMironov 4
  5. 5. Lens: most recent pre-sales issue Metric: current quarter revenue “This missing feature lost the deal” “HugeCorp is threatening to churn if we don’t promise…” Sales Wants… @RichMironov
  6. 6. Lens: headline features/benefits Metric: top-of-funnel interest, demographics “Competitor Z supports Azure” “That AI integration panel discussion had 200 attendees. More like that?” Marketing Wants… @RichMironov Now with Bitcoin and Machine Learning
  7. 7. Lens: reported issues Metric: reduced tickets/outages “New users struggle with sign-in” “We’ve been flagging that data corruption error for weeks” “Customer wants a response by COB tomorrow” Support Wants… @RichMironov
  8. 8. Lens: tech debt, infra, architecture Metric: smoother development “Transaction throughput is at max” “If we refactor that as microservices…” “RESTful API vs. GraphQL vs. gRPC ” Engineering Wants… @RichMironov
  9. 9. Lens: deep recency bias Metric: close today’s large deal “Mercedes is a top 5 customer” “I’m told this one is easy” “Everyone wants single sign-on” Executives Want… @RichMironov
  10. 10. Individual sales teams hijack roadmap for 'specials' Engineering, Support, Product push for fixes, ilities, architecture Only Product & Design lobby for discovery Sales/Mktg/Execs over-index on obvious visible features Stakeholders Push for Their Slice @RichMironov 10
  11. 11. • “Good Idea Train” delivers hundreds of ideas/day • From customers, sales, support, execs, engineers, analysts… • “If I follow process, then my request will be approved” We’re Never Just One Feature Away @RichMironov
  12. 12. Involve stakeholders in XOR trade-offs within slices • With Support: we have 45 story points/sprint for bug fixes. Which 2-3 would you put first? • With Engineering: we can put 5 developer-days against refactoring. Highest ROI for velocity? • With Customer Success: what are top few product blockers to onboarding? What To Do? @RichMironov
  13. 13. • Small but explicit “specials” budget • Keep score (visible token) • Sales VP shares scarcity, shares outcome With Enterprise Sales: Magic Bullet @RichMironov
  14. 14. Customer Validation Feature Definition/Design In Development End User App Team Reporting Infra Team Partner APIs Team Customer Validation Feature Definition/Design In Development End User App Team 1. Faster notifications 2. UI templates v2 3. Auto-update Reporting Infra Team 1. Background queues 2. Data resynch Partner APIs Team 1. Usage monitoring per partner 2. Tiered API access Customer Validation Feature Definition/Design In Development End User App Team 1. ✔ Improved Sign-In 2. UI templates v3 3. Help-Me Chatbot 1. Faster notifications 2. UI templates v2 3. Auto-update Reporting Infra Team 1. ✔ Historical archives 2. Date spinners 1. Background queues 2. Data resynch Partner APIs Team 1. Scale-up to 120 req/sec 2. Turn off deprecated calls 1. Usage monitoring per partner 2. Tiered API access Product WIP (Work In Progress) @RichMironov Customer Validation Feature Definition/Design In Development End User App Team 1. New Job-To-Be-Done 2. Workflow snags 3. Adjacent market 1. ✔ Improved Sign-In 2. UI templates v3 3. Help-Me Chatbot 1. Faster notifications 2. UI templates v2 3. Auto-update Reporting Infra Team 1. ✔ P&L report redesigns 2. Next big report? 1. ✔ Historical archives 2. Date spinners 1. Background queues 2. Data resynch Partner APIs Team 1. ✔ 2020 pricing/volume estimates 2. Code sample quality 1. Scale-up to 120 req/sec 2. Turn off deprecated calls 1. Usage monitoring per partner 2. Tiered API access ✔ ready to move one column to the right
  15. 15. We are students of human behavior 1. Recognize (appreciate) each group’s bias 2. Get exec agreement for explicit allocation 3. Expect roadmap amnesia 4. Push EXCLUSIVE OR trade-offs within each category/allocation 5. Find ways for stakeholders to help prioritize by sharing pain of trade-offs Takeaways @RichMironov
  16. 16. Rich Mironov Mironov Consulting www.mironov.com +1-650-315-7394 rich@mironov.com @richmironov

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