Optimize Business Value

If your company is in business to sell a product and that product doesn’t sell then your company won’t exist for very long. In other words, if someone on the team doesn’t care deeply about whether or not the product is worth buying then get your company ready for a long death march towards product failure and company disolvement. In agile development all team members are encouraged to care about business value. In Scrum, however, the core responsibility of business value belongs to the Product Owner which means they should definitely score 15+ on Optimize Business Value.

The first question on the survey, “I make business decisions because I am very qualified to do so” assesses the level of confidence a team member has in making business decisions. If the team member answers anything other than agree or strongly agree they are indicating that they not prepared to lead perhaps due to a lack of business or domain knowledge, a lack of communication skills, or simply because of indecisiveness.

The second question, “I don’t like qualified others to make business decisions without consulting me” assesses the level of commitment a team member has in making business decisions. If the team member answers anything other than agree or strongly agree then they are stating that their business and or domain knowledge is not required to make excellent business decisions for the company. This is of course perfectly OK for most team members, …but the Product Owner cannot delegate or forsake this responsibility. The third question is very similar, “I don’t like qualified others to make business decisions without informing me” The Product Owner must be consulted and/or informed of every feature, story or spike in the backlog because each item must have business value. The buck stops with them!

The forth question, “I get a great deal of satisfaction when I make good business decisions” assesses if a team member’s strengths are being utilized as they go about making business decisions. In Go Put your Strengths to Work, Marcus Buckingham states that “the simplest and most useful definition of a strength is this: Your strengths are those activities that make you feel strong.” When a team member performs an activity that makes them feel strong it means they are doing something that they are instinctively drawn to, something they enjoy doing, and something that they get a great deal of pleasure doing especially when it drives their success. Some Product Owners may consistently make good business decisions but those that answer “strongly agree” to this question are the ones who are truly working their strengths.

The fifth and last question, “I care very much about the business decisions made on my projects” assesses the level of maturity a team member has towards the life cycle itself. If the team member answers anything other than agree or strongly agree then they are indicating that they do not have much experience in end to end product development… which is perfectly OK for junior team members or team members that are contracted out for specific skills (other than business). It is the responsibility of company leadership to encourage team members to care deeply about business value by making it part of the company’s culture and by making sure the Product Owner is as strong as they can be.

If you are actively participating in a SDLC, click here to see what motivates you.