BONUS: Incremental Delivery in Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Warehouse projects with Raphael Branger

Raphael has been a guest on our regular show, and in those episodes, we approached the topic of Agile applied to Business Intelligence projects. In this episode, we dive deeper into the concepts and ideas that Raphael mentioned earlier, and we learn how Business Intelligence projects can be delivered incrementally, and in an agile manner. 

Slicing User Stories to enable incremental delivery

We start this episode with a practice that is critical for Agile teams: how to slice User Stories to enable the delivery of incremental value to customers. We discuss several strategies that Raphael uses to be able to deliver valuable functionality even in the first week of a project. 

Taking into account that usually, BI projects are executed by larger, and more traditional firms, his approach brings clarity and ensures that the team and the customer are able to evaluate the product from the first week. This practice is critical in collecting feedback from customers early on and avoiding producing products (dashboards, in this case) that no one will use. 

In this segment, we refer to a blog post by Raphael where he describes his User Story slicing approach in more detail.

#NoEstimates in BI projects

One of the inspirations for Raphael’s work on slicing User Stories was the #NoEstimates book and a few conversations that he and Vasco Duarte had in the early stages of Agile adoption at IT-LOGIX, Raphael’s company.

In Raphael’s perspective, the focus should shift from “sizing” stories to understanding what might be a good experience for the customer: customer delight; and then validating those assumptions directly with customers by delivering possible solutions very early on. 

As a way to apply #NoEstimates, Raphael started to apply the concept of “timebox” (limited time) to each of the User Stories being developed. His own rule is that a User Story should be developed within 1 or 2 days at the most, which pushes the teams to focus on what is critical to provide value to the customer. 

Timeboxing User Stories to validate assumptions

In this episode, we also explore how Raphael came to the realization that User Stories need to be timeboxed, rather than estimated. He shares a story of a project where the team produced a dashboard that did not get used by the customer (they had metrics). That was a transformative point in Raphael’s approach, leading him to focus on early and often delivery. Which led to the #NoEstimates heuristic that a User Story should be given a timebox. 

In this segment, we refer to the episode about a team that Runtastic that is using #NoEstimates, and how that has helped the team focus, and provide value faster. 

About Raphael Branger

Raphael Branger is a Certified Disciplined Agile Practitioner and a pioneer in adapting agile methods in the context of data and analytics projects. He works as a Principal Consultant Data & Analytics at IT-Logix in Switzerland with more than seventeen years of experience in business intelligence and data warehousing.

You can link with Raphael Branger on LinkedIn and connect with Raphael Branger on Twitter

 

BONUS: Ryan Jacoby on the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader

Innovation is a topic that gets a lot of attention. There are innovation processes, specific creative games for teams to work with to seek innovative ideas. There’s the Lean Startup movement that tries to codify innovation-friendly processes, and there’s also the UX community pushing the argument that we need more innovation in software companies.

You’ve probably heard the same argument at work. We need to be more innovative to be competitive. Great! But how?

In this episode, we explore how leaders can set up their organizations for innovation. Ryan Jacoby helps us explore the how of that critical question: how can we be more innovative?

Ryan has written a book titled Making Progress – The 7 Responsibilities of an Innovation Leader to describe how organizations can focus on enabling innovation in practice.

The first action you, and your organization need to take

Ryan describes an approach that aims to focus on the team and organization on the customer needs. His approach is simple and immediately actionable. First start by jotting down in plain language and from the point-of-view of the user/customer: what problems are you trying to solve for that customer? Select the top 3.

The other dimension of innovation is your organization’s goals. Define what it means to meaningfully grow the impact of the organization over 6 to 18 months. This growth could be in the number of customers, revenue growth, profit, etc.

Now you have the start of a growth strategy that is centered on customer needs and also directly linked to the company’s/organization’s growth. Next, we talk about innovation in practice.

The 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader

When it comes to putting innovation in practice, Ryan argues that there are 7 areas to take into account.

  1. Define progress for your organization, in other words: what is the impact you seek and the growth in that impact factor
  2. Set an innovation agenda by prioritizing the innovation problems to solve, user and customer groups you want to serve, nature type of innovation to pursue.
  3. Create support teams that build the product
  4. Cultivate the ingredients for success for innovation
  5. Giving great feedback to teams: prepare and setup the feedback moments so that teams can learn quickly.
  6. Inspire progress
  7. Reward progress (as defined in #1)

Ryan explains how he came to value these 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader by telling us his own story when he was responsible to help the New York Times grow their impact through innovative solutions.

Ryan’s book: lessons learned about each of the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader

You can read more about Ryan’s work and find his detailed explanation of the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader in his book: Making Progress – the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader.

 

About Ryan Jacoby

Ryan Jacoby, is the founder of MACHINE, a strategy, and innovation company that helps its clients Think Big and Act Small.

MACHINE clients over the years have included people responsible for growth and innovation at The New York Times, Marriott, Viacom, Etsy, Google, Nike, The Washington Post, Feeding America, Fresh Direct, NBC Universal, and The Knight Foundation.

Prior to founding MACHINE, Ryan led teams and relationships at the design and innovation firm IDEO. He was a founding member and location head of the IDEO New York office and built the Business Design discipline at the firm.

Ryan is also the author of the book named “Making Progress” with Sense and Respond press. A book he describes as “a tactical guide for you, the person charged with leading innovation”

You can link with Ryan Jacoby on LinkedIn and connect with Ryan Jacoby on Twitter.

For more on Ryan Jacoby’s work, visit his company’s site at Machine.io.