Day One of any new endeavor brings excitement, expectation, and possibly some trepidation. The following hours, days, weeks, months, and years will require a lot of hard work from more than a few people. There will be high moments of confidence and clarity, followed by moments of doubt and frustration. And they are experienced together as a team, not just as individuals.
There are obviously many factors (e.g., money), but when all systems are go and your team is ready to roll, success often hinges on a single factor: a continuous, shared understanding across the entire product team around how this product will create unique value in the world.
Because of this, the way a team begins is crucial for understanding the expectations of each other and the work. Crema has designed our strategy & alignment sessions specifically for teams to create a shared clarity around the project: why we came together, what assumptions are shaping our decisions, and how we’ll work together to find the best solutions possible.
Strategy and Alignment sessions typically consist of 2-3 days of in-person conversations, brainstorming, collaboration, and planning as the team moves through the following exercises. Based on the project type, available team members, and other factors, time spent in each exercise will vary, but these are pretty standard.
Introductions: Each person shares their role, experience, and perspective.
The Elevator Pitch: The product owner will pitch the original “why” behind exploring this solutions.
Lean Business Model Canvas: For new products, ideas or ventures, this is an effective way to quickly align the team around the context of the project: customers, problems, metrics, obstacles, opportunities, and unique value proposition.
The Worst Solution: A quick design thinking exercise to establish the opposite of success that actually helps clarify expectations from a new perspective. (We’ll stay clear of anything close to this as we work towards success.)
Card Sorting: This exercise takes inventory of the many (many) solution ideas and organize them into relevant themes. Priorities & values emerge as
Story Spine: We’ll take a walk through the user journey of your user and set the epics or themes of the what they’ll walk through as they get introduced to your product. We’ll establish what is core, then draw a line for what is mission critical.
Road Map: Finally, we create a rough assumption of how we might move forward: vision, valuable next steps, broad goals, and metrics for success. We hammer out the long term goals and measure for success. We determine what we should start testing immediately.
The product team brought together to accomplish this work is made up of a wide variety of backgrounds, assumptions, opinions, and capabilities.
Product Strategist: Crema has crafted this special role as a part of our model. Our product strategists are part co-founder, product owner, product manger, facilitator, and creative director. They bring experience running many long-term product builds.
Product Designer: A product designer's goal is to dream with you, prototyping and testing assumptions all while considering the constraints of what it will take to build the the solution. They are both creative and analytical as they speak into the vision of your product.
Technical Lead: Dreaming without constraints is fun, but we don’t live in vacuums of unlimited time and money. Our technical lead will speak into software architecture best practices. They’ll help consider how to best work within your current environments or ecosystem. They’ll help listen as we plan, so that they know what is motivating us to create the best solution possible.
Your Technical Lead: (optional) You may have an existing team in-house or previous relationship. You’ll find that we play well with others. We invite you to bring them into our session, where their experience & understanding will shed light on how we might move forward.
Your Marketing and/or Customer Support experts: (optional) We can build the best experience possible, but if it isn’t distributed well, it was all for nothing. Bringing your marketing team is a great way to consider our milestones and audience as we align on the best way to release this solution to your users.
Your financial decision makers: (optional) As mentioned before, the team can’t work in a vacuum and produce the best product. We know that building a technology solution is a big investment. We welcome the financial decision makers to speak into the level of effort being considered as we move forward. Our pricing is clear and transparent, and we’ll keep this as an open dialogue.
The specific target outcomes for a strategy & alignment session will vary between projects & clients, but always orbits around a shared understanding of the project’s “true north”: its goals, direction, and criteria for success.
This combination of shared understanding, vision, and goals among the team will prove critical when a new opportunity, obstacle, or feature set is presented. It allows the team to ask & discuss together: “Does this new idea align with our true north? Is it consistent with our identity, purpose, and goals?” This focus and clarity helps us save time, wasted effort, and conflict down the road. It frees us to deliver the right product experience, on time and within budget.
We also consistently see byproducts of these sessions that provide value beyond the product itself, including new ideas & insights, improvements to process, deeper trust among the team, stronger communication, and a richer picture of the business itself.
We can help you understand the environment, identify opportunities, and achieve the outcomes for your project.