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The FROST Innovation Framework for in-house Innovation Programmes

FROST Innovation Framework for in-house Innovation Programmes

A little heads-up – we’re starting on a new range of templates as part of the FROST Innovation Framework from GAS LABS.

This is a useful new framework that supports medium-to-large organisations in creating productive and strategic in-house innovation capabilities.

The FROST Innovation Framework is structured around five key characteristics:

  1. Focused – You articulate the challenge using the “How might we … ?” question template.
  2. Regular – You ensure that the innovation sessions are regular, recurring, and are protected against “emergencies”.
  3. Open – You ensure that the challenge is open, unrestricted, and importantly has no implementation details stipulated.
  4. Safe – Your staff and all participants, really do honestly feel safe to take risks, and to try anything they want to.
  5. Tangible – The outputs must be working prototypes of some form (NOT just pictures or people waving their arms).
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Visio Roadmap Templates – Shape Fixing and Timeline Repairs

Fixing Visio Roadmap Template Timeline Issues

We have been busy with Spring Cleaning! The Visio Roadmap Templates needed a good dusting off.

My timeline keeps breaking… please HELP ME!

Some of our customers using Visio 2010+ were seeing compatibility issues. Well, we have fixed them!

What breaks in Visio Roadmap Templates?

These are some of the symptoms that customers have reported

  1. The text within shapes is not editable.
  2. The timeline breaks when the dates are changed.
  3. The timeline format goes STRANGE when the dates are changed.
  4. The timeline COMPLETELY BREAKS when the intervals are changed.

(And we have fixed them!)

Why? What caused these issues?

  1. People ask Microsoft for new features.
  2. New features get introduced.
  3. The new features break existing implementations.

Some of our Visio formats have been popular for 10 years. So it is not surprising they need updating!

Visio Templates that have been fixed and upgraded.

 

Contact us.

Contact us if you have any troubles with our Visio Roadmaps.

 

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When a Project Goes Wrong, then Stop; Breathe; Plan a positive review

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Argghhh – the Project has GONE WRONG!… too often we freak out in an self loathing, whining mess. Especially when there’s more than one team involved. OK.

OK. Take a moment. Stop your teams from running around in circles and screaming.

We usually forget the good things! And,… there will be good things again.

Take a breath, and plan a “Lessons Learned” Project Retrospective:-

  1. to put things back in balance,
  2. to establish what needs to be done differently next time,
  3. to emphasise what was great about the project,
  4. to draw a line under the project so that negativity can’t damage us any further, and
  5. to get the teams talking again.

One tendency though, is that negativity can be brought into the Lessons Learned session.

So – how do we keep the Lessons Learned Positive and Productive?

Getting the Right Facilitator is really IMPORTANT!

Important attributes for your Facilitator:

  1. Neutral – was not directly involved in the project
  2. Positive – is self-starter, positive and always pushing for the best
  3. Pragmatic – has a grip on what is feasible and reasonable
  4. Some sense of humour – sees the humorous side of things
  5. Has knowledge of the area – understands the business in question

A good Facilitator must:

  1. take all points as valid, and record them carefully
  2. prevent defensive behaviour – “it’s happened, let’s get this point recorded”
  3. prevent arguments or tempers from flaring – “we’ll record everyone’s points – they are all now valid – remember the Prime Directive :)”
  4. keep track of time – be sure that everyone is getting their opinions in, and that noone is allowed to monopolise the available time
  5. encourage insights from quieter participants – there are likely to be dominant characters, so make sure the quieter ones get a chance to share
  6. be fair, and praise contributions – keep the atmosphere positive and light by being fair, listening well, and giving praise to brave or focussed insights

Focus on “How to do better next time”

Focus on “how to do better next time” rather than “Who got it wrong / what was wrong this time”.

Use Norm Kerth’s “Prime Directive”

Norm Kerth’s Prime Directive is generally accepted as a great way of staying positive in your retrospectives :

Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.

Set out your Lessons Learned Agenda

You can use this Agile Lessons Learned template as a good basis and structure on which to build.

This helpful Agile Lessons Learned Template lays out a good framework for your session, and includes helpful notes for the facilitator, guidance, and mistakes & pitfalls to avoid!

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  • Make it short and clear.
  • Set the times for each section.
  • Prepare the room for what’s going to happen.
  • Stick to your times.

Further help with your Lessons Learned Session

You can find a complete guide to how to run an Agile Lessons Learned Project Review here.

More Project Review and Lessons Learned Templates

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What is a Project Roadmap? Roadmap Basics for Beginners

What is a project roadmap?

This guide will explain the important parts of a Project Roadmap. It includes workstreams, activities, timelines, risk levels and other elements needed for an effective project roadmap.

What is a Project Roadmap used for?

1. Quickly communicates project plans and goals.
2. Manages stakeholder expectations.
3. Generates a shared understanding across the teams involved.
4. Communicates plans with other important teams/organisations.

What is a Project Roadmap?

It is a simple diagram format, that shows your project plans over time.Step-by-step Keynote Roadmap Template Example
IMPORTANT: A Project Roadmap IS NOT the place for detailed project plans and detailed information.

What does a Project Roadmap include?

1. Must Have: The Project Goals articulated; at least in the deliverables listed.
2. Must Have: A timeline – to show when things will happen.
3. Must Have: The high level titles for the big deliverables (don’t get into the detail!!).
4. Should Have: The workstreams in separate “Swim Lanes”.
5. Should Have: Milestones of key events, when you expect them.
6. Could Have: Areas of high risk.
7. Could Have: Areas where you have dependencies.

What are the Key Characteristics of a Project Roadmap?

It gives a sense of the Project Goals: Either explicitly in plain words: “The goal is …”.
It shows the plans for a project in simple terms: not too detailed – just the high-level titles! (keep to 4 or less in each workstream).
It fits on 1 side of paper (or 1 slide in a presentation) to keep it simple!
It shows project plans alongside a timeline.
You can read it and understand it in 3 minutes or less.
It avoids acronyms and team jargon, so that anyone can understand it!
It has your name on it – so people can contact you with questions.

What’s the best Project Roadmap presentation?

The best project roadmap presentation is one that tells your story simply and quickly. You must give a sense of time, the important project elements, and any key messages you want to highlight.
What is a project roadmap?

Step-by-Step guide to creating a Roadmap

See our Creating a Roadmap guide here.

Creating a Roadmap can have useful side-effects

The process of creating a roadmap, with key project stakeholders and team members, can be a very useful exercise for your team, because it:-

  1. Ensures that the team and stakeholders understand capacity
  2. Forces priority decisions
  3. Promotes a shared understanding in the wider team

Roadmap Examples and Samples

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Managing Stakeholders in Agile Projects

Managing Stakeholders in Agile Projects can be tough in large or old organisations. Have you heard this: “YES. We are agile. But you must tell me what I will get and when!” It’s painful.

The natural tension between Agile and Senior Stakeholder Structures

Upper management in large organisations and Programme Management structures (e.g. PMO) have a natural conflict of interests (or ‘tension’) with agile principles – i.e.

  1. Management and PMO want details on what is going to be delivered and when – i.e. Definition Up Front! – and
  2. The Agile product delivery team want to adapt and change dates and features as & when the customer/audience change – i.e. Definition When it’s NEEDED!

Addressing the tension – how to run Agile in large Stakeholder structures

So – how should we approach the comms around an Agile Project / Programme, and stakeholder management?

The Powerpoint Agile Roadmap Dashboard slide shows project status + Roadmap
The Powerpoint Agile Roadmap Dashboard slide shows project status + Roadmap

Clear “Release” / “Goal” Planning

  1. Describe your Releases (i.e. the significant product drops / deliveries) clearly
  2. Provide a clear 1-sider about each release, outlining what the business goals are

Manage expectations with “The Cone of Uncertainty”

  1. For each aspect of the release, clearly define the expected variance of estimates, according to degree of certainty
  2. So, if you have allowed e.g. 2 sprints / iterations for a feature, but do not plan to unpack the user stories until later on, assign an appropriate +/- 40% caveat to the estimation
  3. For more info
    1. see Agile 101’s understanding the cone of uncertainty.
    2. or Wikipedia’s entry on Cone of Uncertainty.

Focus on Epic User Stories / High-level Features

i.e. use High Level Requirements (EPICS / Features / Themes) to define the delivery

  1. Do not break down your Epics / Features into user stories unless:-
    1. They are about to go into iteration, or
    2. They are very high risk or unknown, and you can’t attach any estimation.
  2. So – avoid breaking down the WHOLE delivery into User Stories.
    1. It is in direct conflict with Agile and Lean to invest in definition unless you NEED to.
    2. So – only spend the teams’ time on defining user stories at the point of implementation.
  3. Keep these high level requirements flexible – this gives you agile wiggle room and scope flexibility at the point of implementation.
  4. Estimate the Epics in Story Points or T-Shirt sizes.
    1. See estimation recommendations here from Agile 101.

Keep Progress Clear

  1. Update your stakeholders regularly on where you are with Features / Epics implementation.
  2. Use a simple format (e.g. Release Plan) to explain which workstreams are delivering which features, and when.

Excel RAID Log & Dashboard Template
Excel RAID Log & Dashboard Template

Run a High-Level RAID Log and reference your Epics

  1. Use a RAID log to speak in Senior Stakeholder ‘lingo’.
  2. Keep this light, and do not go into too much detail.
  3. Update each sprint, or as serious RAID changes emerge.

Leave room to manoeuvre within your Epics

  1. When defining your high level features or “Epics”, keep the scoping high-level.
  2. Be clear and strategic about the scenarios and success criteria.
  3. Assign risk information to your Epics – raise stakeholder awareness of which features are risky / giving issues.
    1. This will enable them to help you prioritise.
    2. In healthy organisations, this provides a diologue in which to descope and reprioritise high level features.

Include High Level “Non Functional Requirements” (NFR s)

  1. Be sure to include any significant NFRs.
  2. e.g. (and not limited to-) :
    1. Ingegration requirements.
    2. Load testing, User testing, Stakeholder Acceptance testing requirements.
    3. Performance testing.
    4. contingency for all of the above.

Communicate Agile Plans to Senior Stakeholders

Here are some reporting formats that you can use to communicate Agile plans to Senior Stakeholders: