Monday, February 11, 2013

Techniques for Getting Aligned with Stakeholders

From my experience, a key challenges is in getting everyone on the same page about how to approach the problem or opportunity you are trying to address. If you are not aligned on the vision, it is nearly impossible to gather requirements from multiple stakeholders when each person brings a different perspective based on their own experiences and context with in which they work. 

Many agile teams employ techniques to help alignment with stakeholders. These techniques are lightweight, but require key stakeholders to be involved in the envisioning exercise. Techniques that I've enjoyed include:
Stakeholders have differing levels of interest in your project, but if they aren't accountable to the outcome they may not share the same sense of urgency that you do.  Those with "skin in the game"  should have decision making authority. This is illustrated through the Classic Story of the Pig and Chicken illustrated by Michael Vizdos / Tony Clark.  Although, Scrum has moved away from using classic story, I believe it helps to illustrate that those who are committed and accountable (pigs) should be separated from those only involved (chickens), and only those committed and accountable should get decision making authority.  NOTE: In high-trust environments all stakeholders are committed and accountable.  
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