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Think Big, Plan Small: How to Use Continual Planning

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Many agile teams attempt to plan for an entire quarter at a time. Something changes—a better product opportunity, or a product development problem—and the quarter’s plan is not just at risk. That plan is now impossible. Instead of quarterly planning, consider continual planning. Continual planning allows a project or a program to use small deliverables to plan for the near future and rolling waves to replan often to deliver the most value.

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Think Big, Plan Small: How to Use Continual Planning

  1. 1. Think Big, Plan Small: How to Use Continual Planning Johanna Rothman @johannarothman www.jrothman.com jr@jrothman.com 781-641-4046
  2. 2. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. -- Dwight D. Eisenhower 2
  3. 3. Why We Plan • Achieve some specific result, some deliverable • Set “expectations” for deliverable(s) • Forecast date and cost • Manage risks
  4. 4. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman What We Need from Plans • Resilience • Larger the effort, the more resilience we need 4
  5. 5. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Common Roadmap (Time-Based Wishlist) 5
  6. 6. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Different Projects Require Different Planning Horizons • One-delivery projects (serial life cycle) have no specific feedback for replanning 6
  7. 7. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Quarterly Planning • Plan once a quarter • “How much can we get into a quarter’s worth of plan?” • Can we get the project/ program to commit? • “Push” planning 7
  8. 8. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Value of Big Planning • See interdependencies • Create informal CoP • Get to know each other, especially if distributed 8
  9. 9. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Big Plans Gone Wild • Lots of prep • Lots of people • High meeting cost • Time and money 9
  10. 10. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Problems with Larger Planning • “I believe!” • Roadmap becomes a committed plan • Estimation uncertainty increases farther out • Interdependency uncertainty increases farther out • Larger planning creates less adaptability 10
  11. 11. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Assumptions Big Plans Make • Even distribution of features across the backlogs (feature sets) • Arrival rate is predictable for more features • Value of all features is similar 11
  12. 12. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Reality of Plans… • Some feature sets have more changes, more features • Arrival rate of changes/new features is unpredictable • Some features more valuable than others • Leads to “more” & “change” 12
  13. 13. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Deliverables and Planning 13
  14. 14. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Small Plans Gone Wild • Only look ahead for one week or two • No strategic intent • How can you tell if you’re achieving business value? 14
  15. 15. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Large efforts require small stories, small planning for faster throughput and feedback. 15
  16. 16. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Large/Uncertain Efforts • Need more feedback • More releases (at least, internal) • More integration • More estimation required for a time-based roadmap 16
  17. 17. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Why This Need for “More” & Change? • Guesses abound! • Sizing • What the PO/PM wants • What the org needs • Market changes • We learn 17
  18. 18. Invite Change with Build- Measure-Learn Loop • Break ideas down into small chunks of value • Build one small chunk • Create this minimum product • How little can you do and still validate a business hypothesis? (MVP) • How little can you do to learn? (MVE) • Measure the effects with data • Learn from releasing that and integrate the learning back into the ideas
  19. 19. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman “How Much” vs.“How Little” • “How much” thinking is from serial planning • One delivery means everyone wants their stuff in now, because who knows when the team will be able to deliver again? • “How little” allows for change and can create a more adaptive project • How little can we do to deliver value? 19
  20. 20. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Product vs. Internal Releasing • You can release internally at least once a month regardless of how frequently your customers see new product 20
  21. 21. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Rolling Wave Planning • Uses feedback from MVPs and MVEs to create the next plan(s) • Decide on the duration of your wave • Plan the first chunk, part of your wave • Create suppositions for the next bit • As you finish the first chunk, (re)plan the next • Maintain the wave 21
  22. 22. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Two-Month Rolling Wave 22
  23. 23. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman After One Iteration… 23
  24. 24. Rolling Waves Help Sequencing • MVPs and MVEs allow sequencing of deliverables • One month wave; two months look ahead
  25. 25. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman After Next Iteration • Required more change • Much of the story breakdown work was unnecessary—for now • Created WIP • PO and the Team had low morale • No one saw the value in the planning except the execs… 25
  26. 26. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Smaller the Wave, More Options • One-month rolling wave provides more options for replanning • Continuous planning works with continuous delivery 26
  27. 27. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Consider Continual Planning • Continual: frequently recurring • Start and stop, but the interval is small • I’ve used monthly, but you might consider biweekly or weekly 27
  28. 28. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman One-Month Rolling Wave 28
  29. 29. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman After One Week… 29
  30. 30. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman After Two Weeks… 30
  31. 31. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Team Changes Over Wave • Smaller stories • PO worked with the team more often • Story workshops to define MVE and MVP • Team delivered more smaller features faster • Cadence of planning and demos 31
  32. 32. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Continual Planning • Replan as often as the team delivers value • Options: • ProductValue Team meeting • Ask everyone to plan every month • Together and at distance 32
  33. 33. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Variety of Teams 33
  34. 34. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman ProductValue Team • Strategic intent of product • Why this product? Why now? What impact will we have? • Impact map 34
  35. 35. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Roadmap vs. Portfolio • The product roadmap optimizes for this product’s capabilities • The project portfolio optimizes for the organization’s strategy • A given product release fulfills a part of the organization’s strategy 35
  36. 36. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman ProductValue Team Decides on ProductValue Over Time • Strategic decisions • Consider Cost of Delay when deciding strategy 36
  37. 37. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Product (Owner)Value Team • Product manager • Externally-oriented, customer-facing • Product Owner • Internally-oriented, team-facing • With multiple feature teams, a PO for each team 37
  38. 38. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman ProductValue Team Replans • What value has the program/project delivered? • What would provide more value if we changed the rank, added, or subtracted? • Are we done yet? (Have we provided enough value that we can stop?) 38
  39. 39. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Slicing vs. Curlicue Features • Less frequently we plan, the more we tolerate curlicue features • Don’t deal with root cause of interdependencies 39
  40. 40. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Replanning as Teams • Value in monthly or biweekly meetings: • See interdependencies • Consider reforming teams • Create informal CoP • Build the small-world network • Not much prep or planning because meeting more often 40
  41. 41. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Common Roadmap Approach: Time-Based Wishlist 41
  42. 42. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Scope-Based Roadmap (Still Wishlist) 42
  43. 43. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Pull Assumes Plans Will Change • Pull-based approach helps people expect change (as opposed to commitment) • Optimizes for “How little” • Less need for estimates, at the beginning 43
  44. 44. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Planning Questions to Ponder • How little can we plan? • How little can we deliver before we replan? • Is this a strategic or tactical plan? • How long is our rolling wave now? Is that working for us? • Do we need more or less planning/replanning? 44
  45. 45. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Possibly Useful Guidelines • Plan/replan as often as the fastest team delivers value • Consider different triggers for replanning: • Market changes • Value delivery • Customer feedback • How little can you plan at one time? • How often can you plan/replan? 45
  46. 46. © 2017 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Let’s Stay in Touch • Pragmatic Managers • Blog posts on www.jrothman.com/blog/mpd • PO workshop • Stay in touch? • Pragmatic Manager: www.jrothman.com/ pragmaticmanager • Please link with me on LinkedIn 46

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