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Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
Slicing
Heuristics
Techniques for improving value
gen...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
It is becoming more
common to associate
things the te...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
Teams often “slice stories” only
at the implementatio...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
Local flow is “good”, but not enough
PROJECT 1
- Mile...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
Slicing heuristics, if applied at all
levels, give us...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
An explicit, evolving policy which describes for a gi...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
A heuristic technique (/hjʊəˈrɪstɪk/; Ancient Greek: ...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
What is “slicing”?
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
Cutting something into slices, each of which
independ...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
Agility and flow require SLICING
•Product development...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
“As a Facebook user, I can share stuff I find
interes...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
“As a Facebook user, I can share stuff I find
interes...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
Enable Acme Bank customers to bank with us online
Exa...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
1. Define and
agree work types

Example:
• Initiative...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
2. Agree slicing policy for each work type
• Define w...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
3. Slice work Just-In-Time
• 1 card for each work ite...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
4. Do work and
measure cycle
times
• Different board ...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
5. Inspect and adapt policies
INSPECT
• Look at actua...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
• Work takes longer than desired

— high cycle time, ...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
• Feature cycle time (or variation) is higher than de...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
INITIATIVE 1
CURRENT cycle time:
2.2 months
INITIATIV...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
INITIATIVE 1
CURRENT cycle time:
2.2 months
INITIATIV...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
CAPABILITY 1
COMPLETED cycle time:
1.8 months
CAPABIL...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
• Define and agree work types — Agree slicing policy ...
Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved
neil_killick neilkillick.com
Thank you!
Questions and
discussion
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Slicing heuristics - Techniques for improving value generation, speed to market and delivery predictability

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Talk from Limited WIP Society meetup, May 22nd 2019.

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Slicing heuristics - Techniques for improving value generation, speed to market and delivery predictability

  1. 1. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com Slicing Heuristics Techniques for improving value generation, speed to market and delivery predictability Neil Killick ⍟ Product development practitioner ⍟ Business, customer and user experience (UX) analyst ⍟ Lean-agile coach and trainer
  2. 2. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com It is becoming more common to associate things the team is working on with the value we want to create. However…
  3. 3. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com Teams often “slice stories” only at the implementation level (functional or technical slicing). Not much slicing going on higher up the chain at the problem or capability level.
  4. 4. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com Local flow is “good”, but not enough PROJECT 1 - Milestone 1 - Milestone 2 PROJECT 2 - Milestone 1 - Milestone 2 PROJECT 3 - Milestone 1 - Milestone 2 Progress toward deterministic milestones “Agile teams” trying to improve flow (speed), but lack optionality and opportunity to change direction
  5. 5. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com Slicing heuristics, if applied at all levels, give us a more holistic approach for combining agility with consistency and predictability
  6. 6. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com An explicit, evolving policy which describes for a given deliverable: • A shared language for the type of deliverable, its scale and how it relates to the higher level deliverable (the value chain)
 • How and when to “slice" this deliverable (and when to stop!)
 • Success criteria to ensure the policy is achieving the desired speed to market and/or level of predictability we require What is a slicing heuristic?
  7. 7. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com A heuristic technique (/hjʊəˈrɪstɪk/; Ancient Greek: εὑρίσκω, "find" or "discover"), often called simply a heuristic, is any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method, not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, logical, or rational, but instead sufficient for reaching an immediate goal. ~ Wikipedia Why a “heuristic”? I’m explicitly calling out that the policies need to adapt rather than stay static. “Method”, “framework” or “process” might not work so well for that purpose.
  8. 8. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com What is “slicing”?
  9. 9. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com Cutting something into slices, each of which independently maintains the essence of the thing being cut. e.g. a slice of cake, a slice of apple, a slice of pizza, a software feature which allows me to accomplish something What is “slicing”? Distinct from “decomposition” Breaking something into distinct pieces, none of which can serve the purpose of the thing being broken, and all or most of which are required to (re)build it. e.g. a piece of a Rubik’s Cube, a fuel filter, a broken piece of a glass mirror, a software component
  10. 10. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com Agility and flow require SLICING •Product development involves problem solving, research, analysis, design, learning and responding quickly to new information within time and budget constraints.
 •Slicing creates options in terms of problems to be solved and how to solve them. Options can be prioritised, deferred and rejected, broken down pieces can’t.
 •Flow of the “right” options is meaningful.
  11. 11. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com “As a Facebook user, I can share stuff I find interesting with other people in my life…” What are the 4 seams (general terms which we can “slice”)? Capability Slicing
  12. 12. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com “As a Facebook user, I can share stuff I find interesting with other people in my life…” Slice “Facebook user”, “share”, “stuff I find interesting” and “other people in my life” (the”seams” in the story):
 “Socialisers” can tell close friends about their Friday night plans “Town criers” can promote articles to all of their acquaintances Students can exchange homework tips with their school friends Family members can share photos with each other Capability Slicing
  13. 13. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com Enable Acme Bank customers to bank with us online Example slices: • Small business customers can pay their bills with BPAY from their mobile phone • Large business customers can transfer money between accounts from their desktop computer • New customers can request an overdraft from their laptop • Mortgage customers can apply for a 2nd mortgage from their iPad • School kids can transfer money between accounts from their Android tablet • Personal customers can pay their bills with direct deposit from Chrome (latest version) • Gold credit card holders can upgrade to platinum from their Apple Watch • etc….. etc….
  14. 14. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com
  15. 15. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com 1. Define and agree work types
 Example: • Initiative — Strategic theme representing business outcomes • Capability — Enabled customer behaviour which is expected to derive business value as described by the initiative • Feature — Proposed solution to deliver a capability • Story — User capability or workflow needed to make a feature
  16. 16. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com 2. Agree slicing policy for each work type • Define when to stop slicing and create a new card of the same type
 e.g. with this heuristic, if Jane slices an initiative into 5 capabilities, there are now 2 initiatives — the original one with 3 capabilities and a newly defined one with 2 capabilities
 • Define desired scale (measured in cycle time) and allowed variation (standard deviation) • Scale • How much time / money are we willing to invest to get to market and/or demonstrate capability / value? • Defining desired and consistent scale makes portfolio boards extremely useful — usually we don’t have this because each project or program is based on deterministic estimates rather than “this is how long we want things to take” • Variation • Smaller = better predictability • Beware — Removing buffers can promote accountability for outcomes and creative ways to solve problems, but it can also lead to death marches, depending on how the work is defined and the culture
 • Make policies explicit and visible (HT Kanban Method)
  17. 17. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com 3. Slice work Just-In-Time • 1 card for each work item coming into the system, and the slices
 • Conversations between appropriate people at appropriate cadence for each work type
 • Defer sliced out options (do not include in “business commitment”)
 • Organise remaining options into appropriate work types, e.g. push things back upstream
  18. 18. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com 4. Do work and measure cycle times • Different board / cards for each work type
 • Cadence of e.g. standup meetings around different boards to discuss and add a dot to represent days / weeks / months as appropriate
  19. 19. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com 5. Inspect and adapt policies INSPECT • Look at actual cycle times, average cycle times and standard deviation across work types • How long is it taking to deliver work? • How predictable is our delivery? • Analyse statistical patterns for work types • Do we have desired speed to market? • Do we have desired level of predictability? • How far off desired state were we? Does it matter? What did we learn? • Do the work types and policies still make sense? ADAPT • Update work types (only if there is a very good reason) • Update policies for work types (where needed, and with a clear hypothesis and experiment) • Communicate policy changes
  20. 20. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com • Work takes longer than desired
 — high cycle time, slow speed to market or delivery to a customer
 • Work is too unpredictable (high variation) within a work type
 — e.g. can’t predict delivery of features for a client
 • Work is too unpredictable at portfolio level
 — e.g. shared capacity planning is too difficult
 • New work types emerges which we need to incorporate
 — e.g. MVP/MMF
 • Work type is retired
 — e.g. move to FDD, no more stories What might happen?
  21. 21. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com • Feature cycle time (or variation) is higher than defined limits because: • Feature definition is not always clear, causing back-and-forth between developers and product owner • Developers often miss key user scenarios in their testing, causing work to go backwards • Features are not sliced as thinly as they could be • Too many features in progress
 • Using our slicing heuristics, we can try to: • Slice features further for narrower scope, greater simplicity and unambiguity, and explicitly defer them • Reduce the number of stories allowed in a feature, or features allowed in a capability, or capabilities allowed in an initiative • Increase allowable cycle time or variation (if values are at acceptable level)
 • Other experiments we can try: • Reduce the number of stories / features / capabilities / initiatives allowed in progress • Create clearer story readiness and done criteria • Use 3 amigos to clarify all user scenarios and acceptance before development starts Create hypotheses and experiments
  22. 22. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com INITIATIVE 1 CURRENT cycle time: 2.2 months INITIATIVE 2 CURRENT cycle time: 5.1 months INITIATIVE 3 COMPLETED cycle time: 6.8 months OPTION 1 OPTION 2 Deferred OPTION 3 OPTION 4 OPTION 5 Next initiatives Max capabilities: 3 Max cycle time: 6 months In flight INITIATIVE 4 NOT STARTED Capability options DOING DONE C 2C 3 C 1 C 1 C 2 C 3 C 1 C 2 C 3 C 1 C 2 C 3
  23. 23. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com INITIATIVE 1 CURRENT cycle time: 2.2 months INITIATIVE 2 CURRENT cycle time: 5.1 months INITIATIVE 3 COMPLETED cycle time: 6.8 months OPTION 1 OPTION 2 Deferred OPTION 3 OPTION 4 OPTION 5 Next initiatives Max capabilities: 3 Max cycle time: 6 months In flight INITIATIVE 4 NOT STARTED Capability options DOING DONE C 2C 3 C 1 C 1 C 2 C 3 C 1 C 2 C 3 C 1 C 2 C 3
  24. 24. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com CAPABILITY 1 COMPLETED cycle time: 1.8 months CAPABILITY 2 CURRENT cycle time: 2.2 months CAPABILITY 3 NOT STARTED INITIATIVE 1 CURRENT cycle time: 2.2 months Objectives • Objective 1 • Objective 2 Key Results • Key Result 1 • Key Result 2 In flight Max features: 2 Max cycle time: 2 months Feature options DOING DONE F 2F 1 F 1 F 2 F 1 F 2 XXXX Because these are options (from slicing) we can choose to defer them if: • The capability’s implementation is “good enough” for now • We have reached a market window or other time/budget constraint • A higher priority/value capability or initiative needs some more love (capacity)
  25. 25. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com • Define and agree work types — Agree slicing policy for each work type — Slice work just-in-time — Do work and measure cycle times — Inspect and adapt policies
 • Use slicing (over decomposition) to create options — far more conducive to meaningful flow and agility • Slicing heuristics create a focus on slicing which encourages us to be empirical • Solve problems with minimum effort to meet market windows vs Design a solution, estimate it, build it • Inspect and adapt both product and process, iterate, remain flexible on our focus, create transparency of effort and outcomes • Remove overhead and angst of deterministic estimation rituals and expectations (or use alongside estimates as a safe- to-fail experiment) • Emphasis on defining the work in the right way, narrowing scope and steering to outcomes rather than it all depending on execution
 • Like BDD, the success or otherwise of slicing heuristics depends on whether you treat the conversations as the most important thing, or the process Summary
  26. 26. Neil Killick, 2019, All Rights Reserved neil_killick neilkillick.com Thank you! Questions and discussion

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