Forecast Says: Your Forecast is History

May 6, 2013 Dave Gunther

You may have a well-articulated, strategic roadmap BUT how, when and what value you deliver against that roadmap can fluctuate. A benefit of iterative delivery and deliberate learning cycles is that product teams can tweak or radically change output based on what is discovered. Build, measure, learn and change.

A high-performing product team will stop working on ideas when there is evidence that the value is not as high as projected, and start testing new ideas. Embracing this agility means recognizing change early and adjusting often. Any predictions you made one sprint ago should be questioned. Roadmaps created one quarter ago should be questioned. So how can we get better at encouraging and responding to change vs. the extreme: adhering to a fixed, top-down plan?

  • Ensure visibility into product team initiatives, and that they roll up to strategic initiatives and roadmaps – as a tool to continuously align the organization from strategic initiative to team focus and back up the chain.
  • Build flexible roadmaps that are outcome-driven while promoting change and innovation.
  • Plan continuously at all levels in the organization, align, re-plan and align again. Quarterly planning may be too late to be effective.
  • Consider roadmap changes regularly. Don’t miss an opportunity to pivot early.
  • Recognize that a forecast may only be relevant for a moment in time, based only on today’s assumptions. Review, communicate and adjust often. Or don’t forecast.

Hopefully your organization has this problem, where your teams are learning and delivering value beyond what was planned for, despite being less predictable about it. If not, it may be that your organization has a fairly static plan based on what the teams can deliver, based on the current constraints.

Organizations like these that “go agile” recognize that stable teams and iterative delivery can produce output more predictably… perhaps stabilizing roadmaps. But, competitive value comes when we are able to respond to what we learn, change direction, and produce valuable differentiators which we could not have predicted. While these outcomes are less predictable, agile enterprise-level planning needs to be just as dynamic as the product teams in order to organizationally align and deliver against what is measured and learned.


About the Author

Dave Gunther

SAFe Program Consultant, CSM, CSPO, CSP, BS. Dave has more than 25 years of product delivery experience including more than 10 years influencing large organizational agile transformations while scaling agile principles, practices and teams. Dave has worked with over 40 large organizations as a trusted advisor; coaching, training and improving agile delivery while optimizing supporting platforms, configurations and usage patterns to enable business agility.

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