Project Methodologies Go Head-to-head and Walk Away IAR

The Meet Cute

When we began the Google Ventures 5-Day Sprint Cycle, our team quickly realized that we had to blend it with Red Hat’s Open Decision-Making Framework (ODF).  The Sprint process already called for 5 individual customer interviews per sprint.  That meant 5 per week to get just enough of a trend to adjust plans for the next sprint.  We started with that, which was great, but Red Hat currently has 11,000 employees.  We need more buy-in for company-wide acceptance.  Transparent, collaborative decision-making is key to how Red Hat does work the open source way.  At first, it seemed like a big challenge to blend the five-day process with our existing framework.  They seemed so different, and we had a tight deadline.  What we learned, was quite the opposite.  Both methodologies rely on frequent user engagement, but ODF is a five-day sprint on steroids.  We amped up our efforts to engage the whole company.

The Courtship

We did a company-wide survey to get mass participation in the conversation.  We set up space on our Intranet for anyone at Red Hat to engage in the conversation by leaving comments on our blogs, findings, and the topic of the week discussion questions.  We did expert interviews in and outside of Red Hat.  We added a monthly Customer Advisory Council comprised of 40+ employees across departments, geos, and roles, who had expressed passion on the topic before they even knew there would be a project about it. Their direction helped shape future phases of the project and provide clarity for inconclusive parts of our discovery process. We also did a deep dive survey with this council, the Primes (an internal peer feedback group), and a list of other folks who raised their hands to help.  

The Relationship

Our conclusion is that the two processes don’t go against each other.  The Open Decision-Making Framework supplements and reinforces the Google Venture Five-Day Sprint Process.  It’s day five of the sprint cycle on steroids.  Adding these extra feedback loops did take more time.  Our five-day sprints couldn’t stay within a five-day window.  The fifth day of the process added about another week to the sprint cycle, but with it came the socialization of ideas that is critical to Red Hat’s culture.

The Future

For your development project, adding open decision-making doesn’t have to be such a drastic undertaking.  The main goal is to get a stratified, cross-discipline, representation of your user base.  That could be a couple of focus groups, a survey, or chatting up folks at the water cooler.  Stick to the five basic sprint interviews and add the feedback channels that make sense for your organization. Encourage volunteers to relay information between you and their networks to broaden your project’s feedback and buy-in.  Take advantage of their ability to spread the word while bringing you exponential feedback with little effort from you!

Your users will tell you what they want- and what they don’t.  Invite them into your development cycle with a blend of these two methodologies, and you’ll deliver a product they’re willing to buy.

For more on this topic you can read my other article(s) in the series:

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Last updated: April 24, 2017