[Originally posted as part of my regular Newsletter here]
We’ve all been there. We’ve defined an MVP and moved a bunch of functionality to V2, but once we’ve launched we immediately moved on to the next thing.
V2 never comes.
Often referred to as feature factories or the build trap, many organizations find themselves shipping one feature after the next. Seldom do they cycle back to anything they’ve shipped previously to measure the outcome.
And it’s not any individual fault.
We often like to point at stakeholders and contest that “they don’t get it” or “they just want to build their shiny solution” but as Edward Deming would say:
“A bad system will beat a good person every time.” — Edward Deming
In these organizations it’s often the system that is working against you.
Incentives, performance reviews, management ideology, processes, etc are geared towards more output, not outcomes.
So how do you beat a ‘bad system’?
You seek to change the system, not the people.
Here’s a hack I’ve used several times now to influence the system = add a MEASURE column to your workflow before DONE.
If we can all agree that the outcome is what’s important, not the output (i.e. a feature) then we shouldn’t consider any item of work as ‘done’ until it’s created the desired outcome.
Therefore, nothing moves to DONE until we’ve measured the impact of that work.
You may be thinking, but that’s so simple, it would never work!
I’ve done this at a handful of companies now. All varying sizes and different industries, and it’s worked every time!
What you’re creating is a forcing function that acts as a reminder to cycle back and measure the outcome of previous work.
Now, this doesn’t need to be for literally everything. Of course, small tasks and changes might not need this rigor, but anything substantial definitely should.