Value-Driven Project Teams
Every project must define the specific value it intends to deliver, and delivering that value marks successful conclusion of the project. While this may be obvious, many project teams become task-focused rather than value-focused. A team that is busy completing tasks may appear to be making good progress, but if value is not being delivered along the way, progress is questionable.
We will be developing a simple, albeit imperfect, definition of value to serve as a focal point that project teams can use to better assess progress, and shape behaviors that will both accelerate and increase value delivery.
The Essential Definition of Value
The basis for our definition rests on the following principle: Utilization implies value; people do not use that which they do not find useful. This gives us the essence of our definition of value where “Utilization” refers to a consumer using a product:
Value = Utilization
Given the above definition, as soon as any project output is utilized by a consumer, value has been produced.
The Group of Consumers Expands
Let’s call each increment of value produced by the project a “feature”, and the sum of features to be produced by the project to be the “product”.
The first consumer is happily using the first few features produced from the project. It’s time to think about expanding utilization of the features to a broader set of consumers. Necessary modifications are made to accommodate the broader group. More consumers are using the product. More value is being produced. This gives us the next tweak to our definition of value:
Value = Utilization * Number of Consumers
It’s useful to think about value relative to the size of the project’s target consumer group. If the project’s total market is a single consumer, and if that consumer enjoys using the product, the project has delivered 100% of its intended value. If the target market is one hundred consumers, then the project has not yet begun to realize the potential value of the product. That gives us more information we can use to improve our definition:
Value = Utilization / Number of Target Consumers
Given the updated definition, we now define value as a percentage of target consumers that are using our product.
Consumers are using the product, but are not satisfied. Unsatisfied consumers are likely to find alternative solutions better suited to their needs. Satisfaction has to be factored into the equation.
Value = Utilization / Number of Target Consumers * Satisfaction
Consumers provide feedback: there are a few modifications required for them to experience the satisfaction needed to continue using the product.
The team makes the changes. The feedback-update cycle loops a few more times before the product can be released to the full target consumer group.
The Final Release
The product is released to the full target consumer group. Utilization levels are high, indicating satisfied consumers. The project is a success!
Key Behaviors of Value-Driven Project Teams
Once a project team becomes focused on value delivery rather than task completion, behaviors change in ways that increase the ultimate value that’s delivered by the project.
Value-driven project teams focus efforts into delivering any increment of value possible into the hands of consumers, knowing that utilization by consumers validates value delivery.
Value-driven project teams know the longer a product or feature is utilized, the more stable it is, and the more likely it will be able to scale successfully to a larger consumer group.
Value-driven project teams know the best way to get feedback is by consumers interacting directly with the product. They seek every opportunity to accelerate feedback by getting features into the hands of consumers. They work to attain the highest levels of consumer satisfaction by responding to consumer feedback as quickly as possible.
Value-driven project teams have a single-minded focus on delivering value as measured by product utilization, and dismiss all activities not directed toward the delivery of value as waste.
While a project team must complete many tasks to deliver a product, the degree to which the team focuses on incremental delivery of features will impact both the speed of delivery, and the ultimate value delivered by the project.