Ever since I saw Henrik Knibergs movie “PO in a nutshell” about how the PO role work for the first time I have been thinking about how he could have included the discovery process in the picture too. A while ago I created this as an example of how it could look and work for a X-functional team.
All ideas could be good ideas
The process starts with some kind of idea that could come from any stake holder – even from anyone in the team (this is usually a very rare occasion in most companies). The idea is verified in a concept (see example of a concept in my blog post on discovery framework) by the owner of the idea and the Product Owner decides if it worth starting the discovery process to figure out what it is they are supposed to build – or if it is not, based on the information in the concept.
The virtual discovery team
The discovery team is formed by those who can help to lead the discovery work and who has knowledge in if it is feasible (developer), usable (UX-person who regularly meets the users) and sellable (PO who knows the business). This team uses agile and lean methods to as quickly as possible figure out what it is they should build and verify their assumptions along the way. They facilitate collaboratively workshops like design studio, mob programming and usability testing with stakeholders, team and users.
If the discovery team find something worth building and releasing they slice it with the PO using perhaps User Story Mapping and the PO adds what is the MVP it to the sprint backlog. The team might start with it right away and parts of it might be released within the sprint.
The key is no hand overs and shared understanding
Since it is the same people working both in the discovery team as well as in the delivery team there are no hand overs and there is a shared understanding on why they are building the stuff and for who. This gives the team great focus and a flow that probably will give both happy team members as well as innovative and great solutions to the most prioritised problems.
Let go of the control
Does this seem like an utopia for you? A lot of companies have walked a long way on the road in the other direction – in the direction of top management and control. But I believe very strongly that it is possible to do something like this in all organisations, and that all organisations would have great winnings to look forward to if only daring to try and let go. Let go of the control – the UXer needs to let go of their design team and join the team they need to work with to deliver software that users will love. The PO needs to let go of the control of specifying features without letting the team in. The team as a whole needs to let go of control of knowing exactly what comes in to the sprint. And every one needs to let go of control of the details in specification – it is to be used by the user, not you. And off course, the organisation as a whole needs to let go of the roadmap and fixed feature releases. Let it just be prioritised assumptions – assumptions that can be verified by the team just in time and delivered so much sooner!