In my work as an agile coach and digital transformation consultant I have observed two patterns in every organisation I work with.

First, that while speed is essential to compete, building the right thing matters as much, if not more, than building quickly to drive a low time to market. Secondly, that in our digitally disrupted world, the biggest success stories don’t just have an IT department who build systems that should be helpful, business and technology work as one and technology are a core part of delivering the business strategy.

Yet, despite the strategic importance of technology in our modern economy, I often find myself working only with technologists, having tech conversations that don’t even consider business outcomes.

Our conversation might be about migrating a long list of existing APIs or a list of APIs to build to connect up legacy systems. Now whilst these things all matter, and often need to be done they are never where I start when companies ask me how to create business value, how to move faster and how to compete. The answer is never to start by looking inside the organisation. To create business value and compete in the digital economy, we need to connect to those who are connected to end customers and the business units who market products, whose job it is to understand those outside the organisation in order to understand the problems customers face and what they would value. We need to get the outside-in view.

The Mobius loop helps organisations to take an outside-in view. The Mobius framework is invaluable in helping locate where they are now and then plot a path to navigate through the sometimes overwhelming array of options and tools open to us. Mobius helps find the simplest path to defining a Minimum Viable Product (MVP); an MVP that delivers a Business Outcome and real business value.

Mobius Workshop – Starting with the Discovery Canvas

I typically start with the Discovery canvas, as this is often the stage that has been skipped past as teams dive straight into getting stuff delivered, without checking that the outputs are going to deliver outcomes for their organisation. For example migrating all your APIs to another platform, versus asking which APIs are being used and which ones are most valuable. For this reason I often spend more time in the Discovery and Options phases, working to explore where the organisations I am working with can create value and how.

In doing this, I leverage the toolkits drawing on best practice from Design Thinking, Lean Startup, Agile & Google Design Sprints to help us get a deeper understanding of the whys and desired outcomes. My favourite techniques include Empathy Maps, Customer Snapshots, Five Whys, Business Snapshots, Stakeholder Target Maps & How Might We notes.

Mobius then perfectly frames the critical next step. What is the outcome we want and how are we going to measure our progress towards it? Getting that Outcome clearly defined gives everyone a north star to keep focus and aligned as we start to think about Options; the stage where we diverge and then converge on the options to take forward. Sometimes there is a need to loop round Discovery again to find answers to key questions or assumptions. A key technique I always use in this phase is Prioritisation Grids, mapping the value/impact of an ideas to it’s feasibility/difficulty to implement.

The pace at which you move through the Mobius loop varies hugely. Sometimes you can move through the full loop in a week, sometimes it’s better to focus on just Discovery and spend many days in that space. Then with Option/s selected to take forward we enter the more familiar zone of Delivery; more familiar due to the huge rise of Agile delivery approaches. Often organisations can take it from here as they have clear measures of success and a common understanding of the outcome they’re aiming to achieve. This adds real clarity and focus to our delivery planning, stand-ups, demos and retros. This is also leads delivery of those outcomes, as after all, you get what you measure.

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