Envision your climb to the top of the mountain.

Envision your climb to the top of the mountain.

Agile charters typically address topics that can be classified into four basic categories. Each category addresses different concepts that are important to help a team or a team-of-teams in a scaled effort to act in coordinated manner.  The four categories are:

  1. Envisioning Success
  2. Behavior
  3. Constraints
  4. Timing

There are any number of ways to address the concepts in each of the categories, and often a few teams and organizations use multiple components to address a specific concept.  For example, many organizations define success by stating mission, visions and success criteria.  How each team addresses a concept like envisioning success is driven by historical behavior patterns, such as the classic waterfall project charters of late last century. Summarized below are the most common components used to address the concept of envisioning success.  A quick definition is included for each component and a recommendation whether the component should be used for either a team or scaled Agile charter.  Yes means the component should typically be used, meh is an unenthusiastic maybe (biased towards fewer words) and no means don’t.

Envisioning Success

In an Agile charter, it is important to answer the question of why an effort is being done by outlining a common understanding of the project mission, vision and goal. Components often include:

  1. Mission is a statement of a goal or purpose of the effort. Project mission statements are a reflection of the purpose of the organization in terms of the business problem the effort is trying to solve.
    1. Scaled Charter Recommendation:  Meh – For an ongoing product level-organization, a specific mission statement might have value; however, since the overall mission is typically a reflection of the higher-level organization, a mission statement makes less sense for projects or teams.
    2. Team Charter Recommendation:  MehMost teams rarely refer to mission after they spend the time to craftthe statement
  2. Vision is a statement that describes a future state in which the business problem is solved. The vision provides direction to the participants in the effort by providing a goal for the team to progress toward.  The vision does not describe how the problem will be solved but rather a goal that the team or teams can rally around.
    1. Scaled Charter Recommendation:  Yes.
    2. Team Charter Recommendation:  Yes The vision provides team members with an understanding of how their product fits into the bigger deliverable.
  3. Elevator Speech is a crisp definition of the effort that everyone on the team can remember and share.
    1. Scaled Charter Recommendation:  Yes.
    2. Team Charter Recommendation:  Yes/No A vision can be used as a substitute for an elevator speech. Do one or the other at the team level.
  4. Product Box is a tool to help the team to develop a specific project metaphor that helps everyone involved translate the goal or vision into something that is more tangible. The product box is valuable for visual communicators.
    1. Scaled Charter Recommendation:  Yes.
    2. Team Charter Recommendation:  Yes.
  5. Success Criteria describe how success will be determined. Success criteria are the basis for measuring and testing, and is the core of the Agile definition of done for the project.
    1. Scaled Charter Recommendation:  Yes.
    2. Team Charter Recommendation:  Yes.
  6. Context provides pertinent information about the rationale, the technical and business environment for the effort. Context provides background to help the team or team of teams understand the other components in the Envisioning Success category.  Context often addresses why the participants in the effort are being asked to address this problem at this time.
    1. Scaled Charter Recommendation:  Yes.
    2. Team Charter Recommendation:  Yes.
  7. Proposed Solution specifies how the business problem will be solved.  The inclusion of the proposed solution harkens back to projects in which the analysis had been done before the project.  The vision and the product box are more directional and less constraining.  
    1. Scaled Charter Recommendation:  No.
    2. Team Charter Recommendation:  No.

Each component in ‘Envisioning Success’ addresses a different information need, depending on the framework an organization is using for development and their historical chartering process some components will be more or less useful.  Chartering for teams or scaled  approaches should be biased towards leaner charters so that teams can begin tackling the business problem sooner and generating feedback based on functional software rather than on the words in a charter.  

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