OKRs, Epics & Stories

Written by admin

February 2, 2019

Today I had another great experience where I had to explain how teams use Stories & Epics as main drivers of value in their delivery. And how OKRs take the place of whatever you can think of putting above Epics.

The context is that we are running a transformation.
And, as in any transformation, things are slow and hard. We, Agile people, see a lot of results, a lot of great things that are actually happening. But the teams, being deep in their daily activities, cannot all the time see the big picture.

Explaining again and again helps me also to interiorize the sense of this collaboration between Stories, Epics & OKRs and to understand the fine tune details from different perspectives.

The idea behind this is to become a more value driven company, instead of demand fulfillment company. Deliver more Outcome, less Output.

A story, by itself, transports a certain amount of value, normally not bigger than 1 iteration. If you want to have a transporter for bigger value, you have the Epic possibility. This way you deliver value that cannot fit in one Sprint (therefor in 1 Story). And that should be it….well, no.

Enterprises have the bad habit of overcomplicating things, because nothing is sufficient enough, for their needs, most of the time. So they create something else (Requirement for example) that transports more than 1 Epic, so bigger chunks of value, in theory. And then something else that transports more than 1 Requirement, with the same idea behind. And so on.
From the Requirement point up it is extremely hard to follow the value, to be sure of what that value is and how to measure it. Because normally we are talking about really big things that takes long time to do. I’m not even getting in the topic that most of the times a Requirement or bigger are actually demands undercover.

What we try to do is stop this chain of misusing issue types at the Epic level. And put Objectives on top of the Epics, that are aligned in the company, followed and committed, on minimum 3 Months iterations. Therefor you can do whatever amount of Epics & Stories (Output) in your Sprints, as long as you follow the Objectives (Outcome) and reach them. Normally, people will make their life simpler and more efficient, so less Output with the Outcome. How we measure the progress towards the outcomes? By defining some Results that we believe will be Key in the progress of achieving the Objective.

More on OKRs you can find on re:Work.

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