The Daily Standup
Episode 288

Exploring Boyd's OODA Loop - Decide

AgileDad published on

Decide on a good course of action

After having observed the environment and oriented on what is important it can still be difficult to decide on a course of action and understand how it links to achieving longer term goals.

Which strategy of the many available is the best one to use to move forward?

The technique I’ve found the most effective in this space I have named Outcome Mapping.

Using an “envision the end state” approach this technique helps teams decide on an immediate course of action in order to achieve a longer term goal. (This approach is also used in other techniques such as The Future, Backwards and the Toyota Kata to help set direction in complex problem domains).

Outcome Mapping is as simple as drawing a single line starting at now, and ending in the future. Leaders and stakeholders are asked to use post-it notes to identify any key milestones that exist. This effectively sets constraints for the team that they need to achieve. For example a milestone might be “Ship the product by end Mar 2017”, “Be ready for a trade show on 15th Jan 2017” or even “Onboard 5 new engineers by Dec 2016”.

These constraints set an identified end state and when combined with outcome mapping, enables a team to have broad flexibility in determining appropriate action given their environment.

Within the defined constraints, teams are then asked to identify the outcomes that they would deliver in order to meet the desired end state.

For some teams it may help to provide a simple frame for outcomes.

  • What would a team implement?
  • What information would they get back from?
  • What would it validate for them?

Some teams will define a sequential set of outcomes, but other teams will add parallel sets of outcomes identifying work that can be done in parallel, by other teams members or even other teams.

The main benefit of having a plan is its ability to align a team around a course of action, so be flexible with how the plan is created. As long as it is visible and intuitive to the team, there are really nothing that you shouldn’t allow them to do here.

With outcomes defined, it is now highly valuable to ask the team to group outcomes into mini milestones. These mini milestones help identify what a releasable slices is and the mid horizon goals that define what a team is trying to achieve during that period.

I use a 1st Release, 2nd Release, Everything else approach to get teams into the mindset of planning regularly. This helps them avoid attempting to define the mythical perfect plan, and get into a regular cycle of planning out what they are currently working on, and what they thing they will work on next.

Depending on the type of work release slices can really be anything.

Greenfield products often have customer validation, development of prototypes and/or steel threads as the first goals. In established products these are more likely to look like enhancing specific areas of the product, or improving or expanding existing customer journeys.

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