Having just completed the 35th iteration of a significant project in which I’m pretty heavily invested, I thought I’d reflect back on some of the major trends visible in previous iterations.
Looking back, the first few iterations were heavily focused on getting our feet under us, discovering the important aspects of the project environment, and getting a feel for how things worked. While informal learning was very consistent through these early iterations, our primary stakeholders determined that the team needed formal training in some of the key areas associated with the product’s development and invested heavily in that training starting around the fifth iteration. These training efforts continued in parallel with development activities throughout the first 20 or so iterations.
Meanwhile, the team was able to successfully release incremental business value into the retail market starting around the 15th’s iteration, with the value of that contribution increasing steadily each iteration. The market feedback from the first few iterations in the retail market fed heavily into determining future product direction, and as a result the product team was able to achieve some significant strides in understanding the target market. This led to a strong pivot into an engineering market, including carefully arranged deep market training for the team over the next few iterations, including at least one significant gemba visit for each iteration. In return, this training allowed the value delivered soon after moving into the engineering target market to be heavily aligned with the future direction of the product.
The product made major strides over the ten iterations following the team’s deep technical training, investing nearly ten thousand hours each into creating major capabilities for both the technical engineering market and the engineering leadership market. Throughout this same period, two major stakeholders moved to an advisory role, the project merged with another project, bringing new stakeholders on board, and even spun off a new project around iteration 29 that is intended to explore new markets (although still demanding quite a bit of training and guidance from members of two merged projects).
Despite significant and profitable market penetration based on the product’s capabilities, the product team wasn’t satisfied with the product’s current positioning. As a result, the team worked to pivot again, bringing the product team into the training and development market. This has allowed the product team to achieve significant leverage towards the overall core vision, while increasing market awareness and continuing to experience significant market demand. These actions have also led to the product being featured in a number of trade shows, as well as being involved in the creation of a variety of market literature.
This leads us to our current reality, in which the team is sitting down to celebrate its achievements and consider future directions using the classic ceremony known to facilitators everywhere as “Birthday dinner.”
Happy birthday to me!