With a premium paid to teams who demonstrate “velocity,” the temptation to pass on the here and now exists everywhere for today’s leaders. But a failure to have your finger on the pulse of today exposes you to a disastrous decision that takes your future way off course. That’s why you need to imagine your daily executive dashboard consisting of two dials: “Run Rate” and “Runway.”
The first tells you how you are doing today, and the second shows where you’re going.
Run Rate: How are you doing?
First, get clear on what are your team’s key performance indicators (KPIs) are you monitoring day to day, month to month, and quarter over quarter. And I don’t mean your favorite KPIs, but it must be your most effective ones, the data points that you tie to how you plan your work.
For instance, Salesforce’s 2019 State of Marketing Report says 60 percent of marketers now track key customer data points such as customer satisfaction and customer retention rates. And 40 percent are trying to unlock real value from this focus by monitoring their customers’ overall lifetime value. Starting here tells you how happy your customers are and show you how that translates into revenue.
Runway: Where are you going?
Digital transformations are journeys and never a destination. And all journeys require a means to travel, like a jet plane needs a runway. That’s why your work is always a work in progress. For that to happen, a clear product roadmap is essential in any company. Your product, engineering, design, marketing, and executive teams need to be well aligned.
These days, Agile project management has established a mindset that allows for flexibility to discover while we are working. While excellent optics equip you with what is happening day-to-day, your product teams need to have a constant rudder on the future, always calibrating. Effective planning of sprints, transparency in your workflows, and collaborative team environments are the key ingredients to ensure innovations quickly get to market, and your product delights your customers.
According to Jeff Sutherland, one of the founders of contemporary “Scrum” project management, the world’s highest performing teams demonstrate three critical elements as they create:
- At the start of each sprint: The product backlog coming into the sprint is in a “ready state.” Clear goals are set, estimations and assignments are correctly defined.
- In the middle of the sprint: The team needs to be self-organized and removing impediments daily. Is everything moving efficiently, and proceeding according to plan? Be prepared to make in-flight decisions to ensure everyone is getting their work done.
- At the end of the sprint: Teams need to have a low tolerance for defects. Be passionate about quality and being responsive to the voice of the customer.
When these three elements are firing on all cylinders, your teams will generate 8-10 times the production compared to teams that don’t do this. Now that’s velocity!