Based on the learnings from the Validate Phase, it is essential to sit down with the project team and the sponsor and reflect on how to proceed. The dashboard of the Project Workspace is a perfect tool to present and discuss the results. The outcomes of the Decide phase are an adapted future scenario that has integrated the learnings from the Validate phase, clear suggestions about what to do next and a signed agreement with the internal sponsor about the future of the project. In a nutshell, three decisions are possible:
Facts tell us that we should better stop wasting our time because our ideas will never work. We stop the project.
We gained insights how to improve our ideas and the way we work together as a team. We start another iteration.
Wow. The results from the previous iteration indicate that our ideas are ready to be launched on the market. Go!
It is obvious that decisions in a first iteration of a project revolve around "core value-jobs-to-get-done fit", product / service design, marketing and sales channels, organisational setup and unfair advantage. In later iterations, we focus more and more on financial aspects including willingness-to-pay, market and sales efficiency, operational expenses, quality aspects etc. For most projects, two to three iterations are necessary before the business model, product, service or software application is ready for market launch. We also evaluate to what extent the project has achieved its objectives and whether the teamwork can be improved. This helps the sponsor decide about the future of the project.
Reflect again your "magic factors" in your business model and present them to your sponsor. They are very important to understand for the project team and decision-makers.
If another iteration is needed (ITERATE), there are a couple of options what you as a coach can consider as next steps:
If the management decisions of the preceding iteration are clear, we usually start the planning phase for the next iteration by updating the Project Charter with a motivational statement, objectives, dates for workshops etc. By the way, we don't suggest to shorten the timeframe for the iteration, specifically not for the Discover phase (we hear that question quite frequently). There are always aspects we need to shed light into to improve our ideas. This is why we do a second or third iteration, don't we?
If one of the key learnings of the preceding iteration was a deep lack of knowledge around customers and users (happens sometimes ), we sometimes delay the next iteration and set up an in-depth customer research phase of up to 4 weeks in between. The same could happen around technology questions that require extra time beyond the normal two weeks timeframe of a Discover Phase.
Especially, when we are dealing with very radical ideas for an organization, it might be wise to postpone the kick off of the next iteration and squeeze a couple of concept workshop into your schedule just to clarify what the focus of the next iteration is supposed to be. For radical ideas, the alignment with the corporate strategy and the management usually requires some clarification and thus time before we run into the next project phase.
3. Key Activities
The following activities represent the core of the Decide phase:
Reflect your learning: Many insights have been gained in the Validate Phase that have important implications for your business model. It is essential that your team collaboratively reflects on its learning and adapts the business model accordingly. Document your thought processes to enable external parties to trace the improvement of your business model.
Develop suggestions: Having integrated your learning in an updated business model, suggestions need to be developed about the future of the project. Use the Project Report to document the outcomes of your innovation journey and to pinpoint which decisions you want your internal sponsor to take.
Decide with internal sponsor: The internal sponsor needs to decide whether the innovation is implemented, further developed or rejected. The Picture of the Future is good compass for sponsors to reflect whether sprint results help build the desired future. Discuss the Project Report and the dashboard of the Project Workspace with the sponsor to explain the outcome of the iteration and to agree on the next steps. If another iteration seems rational, start again with the Setup Phase, but in a compressed form.
Sponsor and other Executives
Meeting with PDP team / planning of next steps
6. Tools & Materials
See Decide workshop
7. Q & A
See Decide workshop
What if the sponsor doesn't want to decide right away and wants to postpone it for an undefined timeframe? This should be the exception and not the rule. Quick decisions are essential to keep up the spirit of the project team. And again, if sponsors have a hard time to decide, the likelihood is high that both the Picture of the Future and corresponding strategy are not clear enough.
What if the sponsor has given a green light to transfer the project results to the next level and prepare go-to-market? We usually need different people in a go-to-market processes compared to the ones we had in a Business Design project team. Make sure that the key results and insights are really transferred to the next stage (e.g. product development process) and not ignored. Let at least one member of the original team continue working on the project making sure that this transfer really happens.