Realigning a Startup’s Product Vision to Drive Innovation and Growth

Dilemma

A Jakarta-based startup was losing focus on product strategy and delivery. As the online services company, composed of 50 employees and three managers spread across development teams, was expanding, it found itself struggling to unite everyone with a clear product vision and renew their innovative drive that had been vital to the organization’s growth. Among the problems that arose and needed to be solved were: 

  • Without proper team alignment and coordinated product approach, their online services became a mix of products that did not match well and left users dissatisfied or confused. Some of these did not meet the needs or interests of their customers.
  • While the company was clearly facing challenges, there was an existing culture of conflict avoidance that prevented the teams from raising problems and consequently solving them.
  • Agile practices were already introduced by an Agile enthusiast internally. However, the startup needed an expert who could raise the bar and straighten up these practices to help the business deliver value and scale up. This is much needed as most profiles in the company were young with most product owners and Scrum Masters still new to their role and lack training. 

Solution and Approach

Given the challenges that needed to be addressed, it was undeniable that a clear product must be established in the organization. Uniting the teams and helping and coaching them to develop and display a performance-driven attitude are also a priority. Three major steps were taken to achieve these.

  • Align the Chief Experience Officer (CxO) and Product Owners on a shared product vision
    • We conducted a two-day offsite product workshop to reframe and establish the company’s product vision by identifying target users, designing meaningful user experiences, and creating a clear and purposeful story map and road map.
    • Product Owners also received excellent coaching that focused on strengthening their leadership skills and attitudes within their teams.
  • Set up an enterprise-wide product ownership Large Scale Scrum (LeSS)-oriented organisation and practices
    • LeSS is an agile framework usually applied to agile teams composed of individuals who work together on creating and delivering a valuable product.
    • With this framework, the organisation shifted towards establishing Feature Teams and Chapters.
    • To ensure that the teams were performing well on delivering the product, a multi-team product backlog and associated rituals were also set up so that everybody could contribute in refining and improving the product. This also ensured seamless collaboration and improved coordination efforts within teams.
    • Additionally, scaled agile estimates and planning were implemented.
  • Inspire performance-driven behaviors in teams
    • Scrum Masters were coached as Agile Facilitators so that they will be equipped with the skills necessary to conduct effective team meetings to ensure high-level performance.
    • Retrospective Agile Meetings were used as a safe space where members could talk openly. In these meetings, they could have friendly disagreements, revisit and reformulate strategies, and provide insights and feedback to plan actions and make decisions.
    • We also introduced and used the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) process to find improvement opportunities. Through a loop of planning, doing, checking, and acting, we were able to make changes and improvements in management and product development.
    • Walls were transformed into an information radiator where pertinent information regarding workflows and products can be seen by everyone in the team.
    • Agile rituals were also thoroughly reviewed and improved as seen fit.

Success Story

  • As the company regained its focus, it was able to deprioritize one-third of the product features. This also resulted in several team efforts being redirected towards the more value-adding and disruptive features, driving innovation in the organisation.
  • Taking advantage of its product capabilities, the startup was able to enter two target markets to solidify its growth.
  • With a solid and clear product vision, the company’s CEO leads brainstorming activities and continues to emphasize enterprise culture.
  • Given the huge improvements in the organisation, team members became happy and satisfied. Staff turnover went from standard to none for the next six months while the company continued to scale up.
  • Several young employees also stepped up. With renewed confidence, they even asked to be more involved in the organisation–a welcome sight for a startup that is continuously expanding.