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Happy new year. After a few months hiatus for getting established in my new home here in Onehunga, Auckland, and also some holidays, I return to continue my writing mission. Last year I shared some axiomatic ideas about goal-setting and the experiences which had helped to form my thinking about what works and why.

This year, 2021, I will step up the scope of this publication to serve the purpose of this work and more directly address my hypothesis. That is that outcomes are a more useful primary frame of reference for planning and many practices in product development are…


Something which most agile practices don’t provide much guidance on (happy to look at counter-examples if you have them!) is how to think about the longterm. There’s almost a reflexive revolt against long term thinking, especially with less experienced agilists — possibly due to the fear of reverting to fixed, ‘waterfall’ mentality.

This is because while agile practices are outcome-oriented in the sense that it seeks to put the customer at the centre through the presence of the Product owner (we can argue the effectiveness of this given its common to relegate Product owner roles to be reduced…

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When I think of an aligned organisation I think of one which has all of its parts in operating in cohesion towards a shared vision of the future. The opportunity that alignment offers is in maximising effort towards a common future state without wasting effort towards the inessential; in effect ensuring an organisation is at its most competitive.

The enduring challenge has been that organisations struggle with painting a vision that is both inspiring and, importantly, well understood across all of its employees. In this post, we will focus on how we might make a vision ‘well understood’.

The shared…

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For my own experience working as the CTO for SEEK Asia, there was a mix of what myself and the leaders brought with us and what the situation called for that lead us to the collection of practices we adopted. We experimented with and applied a variety of practices as part of a transformation effort that our market context and that our acquisition and integration of two top brands in the region demanded.

We approached the challenges that our organisation faced with a mix of conventional solutions where the approach to solving was well established and some novel approaches where…

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It can be easy to fall into the trap of doing something, communicating it once and then mentally crossing off ‘communication’ from your mental checklist for that bit of work. It's important to empathise and put yourself in the shoes of your audience. How often did you read an email newsletter or attend an all-hands meeting and truly comprehend and digest everything that was communicated?

Repetition of a message 5 times in a variety of channels will successfully convey its meaning to 80% of the audience.

My experience over my career: Repetition of a message 5 times in a variety…

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Teams that invest time in having a shared vision of the future can achieve more.

When coaching a team that is challenged in terms of the quality of delivery practices or the output they are producing its common to individual team members frustrated. Often it becomes clear that there are different aspirations for each team member, on different aspects of the development and for achievements over different timescales. This can contribute to friction because each planning session is the calamity of each of these individual hopes without a mechanism for prioritising. …

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These are some articles which I have found useful when evolving our use of OKRs. Note: As I highlight in ‘OKRs are a powerful yet incomplete idea’ OKRs are not a formalised framework and therefore there are many inconsistencies some of which I cover in detail in ‘How popular approaches to OKRs sacrifice impact’ so you will find some inconsistencies across these posts as well.

I will continue to add to this list over time. Let me know if you have any to suggest!

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Customers experience the entirety of what an organisation produces — that can be the products, services, marketing, customer service, sales — whatever interactions with the organisation that occur. They don’t differentiate between which part of the organisation was responsible. To them, experiences were positive or negative or whatever combination that makes up their overall impression. That this is true is evident whenever you collect customer experience feedback such as verbatims from NPS or other forms of survey.

So it makes sense that if customers experience the whole then we should be planning with the whole experience in view. But in…

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Goal setting in an organisation typically goes through a number of evolutions. Here is a rough run-down of the evolutions I have observed.

  1. No goals. Worked is about ‘build the thing’ or ‘do the thing’. Teams muddle through.
  2. Team or project goals. To address the misalignment between teams and leaders, goals become the currency of understanding. Lots of misunderstanding remains as the measurement of progress doesn’t correlate to the actual outcome, only to activity e.g. tasks completed etc. Most organisations stop here.
  3. Outcome-oriented goals. Some organisations next step are to graduate from activity-oriented planning to outcome-oriented planning. …

Daniel Walters

An experienced product development professional sharing experiences and lessons from 20+ years in leadership.

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