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How To Make Your Plans Suck Less — Maarten Dalmijn at the 57th Hands-on Agile Meetup

Abstract: Humble Planning: How To Make Your Plans Suck Less In this talk, Maarten will introduce the concept of humble planning and why it's crucial for succeeding with an Agile way of working and building products of exceptional value. When faced with uncertainty, risk, and complexity, our natural response is to focus on what we know and to spend more time talking, analyzing, planning, and predicting. As a result, our plans become filled with speculation and rooted in our imagination. Our plans as an anchor stifle the ability to respond to changes. We become locked into plans that prevent collaboration, learning, and discovery. In this talk, Maarten will show why instead of starting with overconfident plans, we should start with humble plans: How can we encourage our teams to begin with humble plans and what do teams need to adapt their plans as they discover and learn what’s necessary while doing the work? The talk will cover concepts like friction, the three gaps model of Bungay, intent, intent-based leadership, humble planning, sprint goals, the fog of beforehand, and the fog of speculation. Meet Maarten Dalmijn Maarten Dalmijn is a consultant, speaker, and trainer at Dalmijn Consulting. He is the author of the book Driving Value with Sprint Goals. Maarten helps teams to beat the feature factory all over the world. Millions of practitioners have read his best-practice articles on Agile, Scrum, and Product Management. He specializes in helping companies to build empowered teams that can discover better ways of delivering value. Maarten is a frequent speaker at Fortune 500 companies and international industry conferences. He has worked with many award-winning start-ups and scale-ups. He is an ambassador and editor at Serious Scrum, the largest Scrum publication on Medium.

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Humble Planning
Humble Planning
Product Management Expert and Author
Product Management Expert and Author
Maarten Dalmijn
Maarten Dalmijn
How To Make Your
Plans Suck Less
What Can We Learn From These Undisputed Masters?
Recipe For Success?
How Many
Oscars?
23
Oscars
23 Oscars
No Recipe for Success
“Early on, all of our movies suck....
our job is to make them from suck
to not-suck”.
Ed Catmull, CEO Pixar, Creativity,
Inc.
“Early on, all of our movies suck....
our job is to make them from suck
to not-suck”.
Ed Catmull, CEO Pixar, Creativity,
Inc.
Story board review: everybody
hated Woody.
Development of the movie was
halted and a full script rewrite was
necessary.
Story board review: everybody
hated Woody.
Development of the movie was
halted and a full script rewrite was
necessary.
Toy Story Initially Sucked

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How To Make Your Plans Suck Less — Maarten Dalmijn at the 57th Hands-on Agile Meetup

  • 1. Humble Planning Humble Planning Product Management Expert and Author Product Management Expert and Author Maarten Dalmijn Maarten Dalmijn How To Make Your Plans Suck Less
  • 2. What Can We Learn From These Undisputed Masters?
  • 3. Recipe For Success? How Many Oscars?
  • 5. No Recipe for Success “Early on, all of our movies suck.... our job is to make them from suck to not-suck”. Ed Catmull, CEO Pixar, Creativity, Inc. “Early on, all of our movies suck.... our job is to make them from suck to not-suck”. Ed Catmull, CEO Pixar, Creativity, Inc.
  • 6. Story board review: everybody hated Woody. Development of the movie was halted and a full script rewrite was necessary. Story board review: everybody hated Woody. Development of the movie was halted and a full script rewrite was necessary. Toy Story Initially Sucked
  • 7. Up Initially Sucked First version: castle floating in the sky with a king with two sons who who hated each other. Unable to make the story work. First version: castle floating in the sky with a king with two sons who who hated each other. Unable to make the story work.
  • 8. Goldeneye 64 Delayed Game release delayed by 6 months. Multiplayer added in final month without knowledge of management. Game release delayed by 6 months. Multiplayer added in final month without knowledge of management.
  • 9. Half-Life Delayed Multiple Times Game delayed not once, twice, but an astounding three times. One of the greatest games of all time. Game delayed not once, twice, but an astounding three times. One of the greatest games of all time.
  • 10. Valve Time: It’s Done When It’s Done
  • 11. Game Delays Are Common “Every game is delayed at least once.” Jason Schreier, Blood Sweat, And Pixels “Every game is delayed at least once.” Jason Schreier, Blood Sweat, And Pixels
  • 12. My Personal Experience I’ve been involved in the rebuild of 7 products. How many were delivered on time? I’ve been involved in the rebuild of 7 products. How many were delivered on time?
  • 13. What Can We Learn From This? 1.Our initial plans often suck. 2. Even when everything goes according to the initial plan, the result might still suck. 3. Unless you have a good feedback mechanism, the result will suck. 1.Our initial plans often suck. 2. Even when everything goes according to the initial plan, the result might still suck. 3. Unless you have a good feedback mechanism, the result will suck.
  • 14. Planning Cycle of Madness We fail to meet our plans, roadmaps and timelines. More meetings, planning, analysis, design and up-front coordination. Our plans act as an anchor that stifles our ability to collaborate and adapt.
  • 15. Breaking the Cycle: Understanding Friction "Everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult. Friction, as we choose to call it, is the force that makes the apparently easy so difficult. Friction distinguishes real war from war on paper." - General Carl von Clausewitz "Everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult. Friction, as we choose to call it, is the force that makes the apparently easy so difficult. Friction distinguishes real war from war on paper." - General Carl von Clausewitz
  • 16. Clear - No Friction Clear Obvious for anyone no matter their expertise DUH! No Fog of Beforehand No Fog of Speculation Plans, and actions produce the desired results No Fog of Beforehand No Fog of Speculation Plans, and actions produce the desired results Walk the Stairs Follow the steps and life will be great Walk the Stairs Follow the steps and life will be great
  • 17. Complicated - Limited Friction Without Expertise: Fog of Beforehand Fog of Speculation Plans, and actions don’t produce the desired results Without Expertise: Fog of Beforehand Fog of Speculation Plans, and actions don’t produce the desired results Making Espresso Experts know the steps you have to follow Making Espresso Experts know the steps you have to follow Complicated DON'T WORRY, I'M AN EXPERT. I GOT THIS! Few surprises for experts
  • 18. Complex - Strong Friction With Expertise: Fog of Beforehand Fog of Speculation Plans and actions usually don’t produce the desired results With Expertise: Fog of Beforehand Fog of Speculation Plans and actions usually don’t produce the desired results Making the Jaws Movie Every step you take helps shapes the way. Expertise still matters but isn’t enough. Making the Jaws Movie Every step you take helps shapes the way. Expertise still matters but isn’t enough. Complex HUH? AHH! RIGHT. Frequent surprises no matter your expertise
  • 19. Clear Obvious for anyone no matter their expertise DUH! Complicated DON'T WORRY, I'M AN EXPERT. I GOT THIS! Few surprises for experts Complex HUH? AHH! RIGHT. Frequent surprises no matter your expertise Chaos Constant state of surprise WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF No Friction Limited Friction Strong Friction Overbearing Friction More friction, more surprises. Lower predictability and ability to make strong plans. More friction, more surprises. Lower predictability and ability to make strong plans.
  • 20. How Does Friction Impact Plans, Actions and Results? Clear Obvious for anyone no matter their expertise DUH! Complicated DON'T WORRY, I'M AN EXPERT. I GOT THIS! Few surprises for experts Complex HUH? AHH! RIGHT. Frequent surprises no matter your expertise Chaos Constant state of surprise WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF Plan-Driven (goal implicit) Goal-Driven (goal explicit)
  • 21. How Does Friction Impact Plans, Actions and Results? Clear Obvious for anyone no matter their expertise DUH! Complicated DON'T WORRY, I'M AN EXPERT. I GOT THIS! Few surprises for experts Complex HUH? AHH! RIGHT. Frequent surprises no matter your expertise Chaos Constant state of surprise WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF Plan-Driven (goal implicit) Goal-Driven (goal explicit) "In the plan we trust." "In the results we trust."
  • 22. It's Complex What We Know What We Don't Know What We Know What We Don't Know Expect To Be Surprised Often
  • 23. It's Complex What We Know Speculation and noise: false assumptions to make up for things we can't know before doing the work What We Don't Know Too Much Planning Disconnects our plans from reality and anchors them in our imagination
  • 24. It's Complex Reduces What We Know What We Don't Know Humble Planning Reduces
  • 25. Visualized Another Way Your Plans Rock! Your Plans Suck Your Plans Suck Even More LOW COMPLEX COMPLICATED HIGH TYPE OF WORK TIME SPENT PREDICTING, PLANNING AND ANALYZING BEFORE STARTING Your Plans Suck Maarten Dalmijn mdalmijn.com
  • 26. Easy to Take Wrong Approach How many of these three timelines did I hit? How many of these three timelines did I hit?
  • 27. Overconfident Planning in Action Only timeline I hit
  • 28. How Do We Fix This? Humble Planning Every step we take helps shape the way. Plan more, later, when you know more. Humble Planning Every step we take helps shape the way. Plan more, later, when you know more. Lead with Context Stay anchored in the results by starting with intent: what are we trying to achieve 1 1. . why does it matter? 2 2. . Lead with Context Stay anchored in the results by starting with intent: what are we trying to achieve 1. why does it matter? 2.
  • 29. Example: D-Day Example from D-Day (Operation Overlord): To secure key bridges, road junctions and other locations in Normandy that would allow the ground invasion forces to advance inland. WHAT WHY Commander's Intent are we trying to achieve? does it matter?
  • 30. Sprint Goals Should Provide Intent WHAT Commander's Intent are we trying to achieve? does it matter? Sprint Goals must provide WHY
  • 31. How To Create a Strong Sprint Goal: FOCUS Acronym Fun Outcome-oriented Collaborative Ultimate Singular Like INVEST for User Stories
  • 32. If You Understand Friction, You Don’t Need the Agile Manifesto Each of these four lines covers ineffective responses for dealing with friction and the resulting surprises. Each of these four lines covers ineffective responses for dealing with friction and the resulting surprises.
  • 33. Agile Is Like Playing Jazz "Improvisation in jazz is like a tightrope walk in a swirling wind. You navigate the uncertainty with skill, responding to the changing conditions, finding equilibrium in the unexpected, and creating a breathtaking performance that defies gravity." - Gary Burton "Improvisation in jazz is like a tightrope walk in a swirling wind. You navigate the uncertainty with skill, responding to the changing conditions, finding equilibrium in the unexpected, and creating a breathtaking performance that defies gravity." - Gary Burton
  • 34. Move Your Scrum to the Background ASAP “Who should the Scrum Master report to?” “Who should the Scrum Master report to?” “How do you handle dependences in Scrum?” “How do you handle dependences in Scrum?” “How do estimation in Scrum?” “How do estimation in Scrum?” Scrum is purposefully incomplete. At best it can be perfectly incomplete. Stop sweating Scrum, start sweating the results you’re achieving. Scrum is purposefully incomplete. At best it can be perfectly incomplete. Stop sweating Scrum, start sweating the results you’re achieving.
  • 35. Fix Scaling Issues with a Scaling Framework After introducing a scaling framework you usually have three problems: #1. You didn’t fix your original issues. #2. You introduced extra complexity, which makes it harder to troubleshoot the original issues. #3. Your scaling framework introduces new problems you didn’t have before. After introducing a scaling framework you usually have three problems: #1. You didn’t fix your original issues. #2. You introduced extra complexity, which makes it harder to troubleshoot the original issues. #3. Your scaling framework introduces new problems you didn’t have before.
  • 36. Why Is Humble Planning Important When Scaling? “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.” Gall’s Law by complex system theorist John Gall “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.” Gall’s Law by complex system theorist John Gall
  • 37. Focus On Your Organizational Dysfunctions Humble Scaling Scale as you solve problems, don’t scale to solve problems. Humble Plans + Dysfunction Mapping + Patterns Humble Scaling Scale as you solve problems, don’t scale to solve problems. Humble Plans + Dysfunction Mapping + Patterns
  • 38. The more we try to prevent sucking at predicting, the more we will guarantee to suck at adapting. If people ask for precise timelines and budgets, make shit up. Don’t introduce big bang scaling frameworks, gradually fix your problems. The more we try to prevent sucking at predicting, the more we will guarantee to suck at adapting. If people ask for precise timelines and budgets, make shit up. Don’t introduce big bang scaling frameworks, gradually fix your problems. If You Remember One Thing...