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Agreeing on Plans for Delivery

Team reaction
Company Culture
Conflict solving
Product
Sharing the vision
Deadlines
Managing Expectations

6 April, 2018

Karim Fanous talks about how he changed his company’s approach to planning, and as a result, fired up his team’s motivation and alignment with the company’s goals.

Problem

Early on at my organization, it was fairly easy for people to figure out what to work on. There was a never-ending amount of work, and we didn't have customers yet. When deciding on work, we would go into a room, hash it out, and then start on the work we had agreed upon. However, today, as a growing business, we have a top-down structure, with the CEO saying that they need x feature or y feature. We also have engineers saying we should build something else. At first, it was difficult to reconcile the two.

Actions taken

We still have top-down planning - every three months, the Executive team comes up with goals for the company for the following three months. However, recently I have been having every team in Engineering present their quarterly business goals to the entire company, a week before the Executive meeting. This helps to ensure that my engineers are aligned with the broader business' goals. I then take these goals and present them to the leadership team. While the plans from the Executive team and Engineers overlap by about ninety percent, if there are any discrepancies, these can then be very quickly resolved, by having the involved parties hash it out together. The result is an organization that is aligned from head to toe and very motivated.

Lessons learned

I check in with my team every quarter to see what is and isn't working from a systemic point of view. Feedback on the changes we made to the planning process has been amazing, and the results have been great. Everyone is fired up about the company's goals because they helped to shape them. It's very important to ensure that the people doing the work understand why the work is important, so they can remain motivated. The best way to do this is to have your engineers define the important pieces of work and to ensure they are part of the process when trade-offs are made.


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