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Introduction to business agility
Introduction to business agility

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6 Pattern 5: Build the right thing – outcomes over output

The outcome you defined in Activity 1 fits into a set of nested outcomes for your organisation.

For example:

  • Level 1 – strategic goals.

  • Level 2 – multi-year outcomes

  • Level 3 – 1-year outcomes

  • Level 4 – 3-month outcomes

  • Level 5 – 1 month experiments, weekly iterations

  • Level 6 – daily stories/tasks

To help your organisation optimise building the right thing, it is necessary to establish clear traceability of work across these levels, with regular prioritisation. This information may be shared through the visualisation walls mentioned above. Regular reviews and reprioritisation by leadership at all levels are based on measuring leading indicators of progress (answer to Experiment 1, Question 1).

To help your organisation optimise around the regular flow of value, it is necessary to consider how people are structured to support these outcomes. There is a pivot from project-based models towards long-lived product/service teams within long-lived value streams – containing all the cross-functional capabilities to achieve their prioritised outcomes. The longevity allows you to optimise belonging, learning, and colleague engagement. Hand-offs with areas that cause delay can be reduced.

The antipattern would be milestone-driven predicted solutions, where the output was defined up front, without experimentation, at the time of least available knowledge. This antipattern prioritises delivery of output over the outcome. As a UK government minister said in February 2021 during the COVID pandemic, ‘In determining the correct course of action we should be guided by the data, not the dates’.

Further information

To explore this pattern in more depth, watch the YouTube video from Jonathan Smart, The PMO is dead, long live the PMO [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]