Value first and #noestimates – two sides of a coin? Part 1: value first

Value First and #NoEstimates – two s >

Recently I came across two approaches that claim to solve the problem “Always to succeed with your projects by delivering always on-time, on or under budget”: Kai Gilb’s Value first and Vasco Duarte’s #NoEstimates. As I have studied these approaches a bit deeper (I have a note on a workshop at Vasco’s at NovaTec and I attended a webinar with Kai, besides reading their respective books and other related stuff) in common but focus different areas of project work.

In this small series of blog posts, first lets have a look at the key points of each approach as I understood. This part is on Value First. Second part presents #NoEstimates. Final post of the series compares both approaches.

Kai Gilb: Value First

Kai Gilb addresses product development. He uses “Project” and “Product” sometimes intermingling. I want to use the term “initiative” in describing what I understood from value first approach.

Kai’s main concern is to succeed in product development by delivering the right product on time within budget. “No one wants code, only value is wanted”, he explains. So one has to focus on customer values ​​to define success for an initiative. This is why value First defines “Success” as delivering to customer values.

What is success?

The Value Objectives identifies the most important stakeholders that want to be involved in an initiative initiative, Value First Approach. Then it defines them with some detail and – most important – quantifies them. As the quantified and prioritized customer values ​​define the success of the initiative, these values ​​are used to accomplish all decisions and actions. He uses a picture dragging a caterpillar: the ants will only move the caterpillar. The quantified and prioritized customer values ​​provide an initative with this direction.

For each goal, for the initiative, an ideal, an optimum and a current quantity. Value First uses this measure to measure progress. Measurement is like a test procedure for the value, Kai states. The goal for each iteration is to make progress. This encourages not to implement a shopping list of features, functions or stories. But only items that directly increase the targeted value. In the end each iteration delivers a value increment that some stakeholder appreciates. This in turn increases the level of stakeholders.

Three key steps

Kai Gilb presents three key steps to succeed:

  1. To wow your customer, forget your order, ask the customer “What do you want to achieve? What improvement do you need? “ – it’s usually not the first answer you get, so you should dig deeper and use the 5 whys to come to the real needs. This reminds me of business analysis and requirements engineering.
  2. Quantify the values – you can do that within 5 minutes for every value. This reminds me of several authors’ writing about quantifying or measuring everything: e.g. Justin Fox wrote, you manage what you measure. And to measure, you have to quantify. Or remember Douglas Hubbart’s classic book “How to measure everything”.
  3. To minimize your workload dramatically, put all key requirements on one page. Sounds not realistic? Kai clarifies: The key requirements are the quantified value-based outcomes that your (critical) stakeholders expect for success. Usually one page or slide can hold these.

Meetup and Workshop in Munich

If you’re interested in learning more about Kai’s approach, there’s a meetup at Munich next Monday. Kai offers some workshops this year, e.g. Munich workshop in May.

What do you think? How do you define success for your initiatives? Let us know your approach.

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Christina Cherry
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