How much Visioning is Necessary in Scrum?

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may spend several weeks creating the product vision and carrying out necessary prep including developing throwaway prototypes to explore product design, architecture and technology options. As the product matures and incremental updates are released, the visioning effort usually declines. The visioning investment may now range from a few hours to a few days. Visioning now forms a part of creating and updating the product road map.

The same applies to complexity: The more complex a product is, the more visioning effort is usually required. Note that complexity comprises not only the internals of the product – its architecture and technology – but also the functionality provided. A feature-rich product is hence likely to require more prep work than a minimal marketable product – a product with the least amount of functionality that still provides the desired value.

Just-enough Visioning
When envisioning the product, avoid two common mistakes: Don’t rush into the first sprint without having agreed on an overarching goal, without understanding what the future product will roughly look like and do. At the same token, avoid overdoing the visioning work. There is no way to guarantee that the vision is correct, that the new product or next product version will be a certain success. For anyone not blessed with perfect foresight, predicting the future correctly is notoriously difficult; no market research technique can deliver forecasts that are 100% accurate.

I therefore recommend you keep the visioning effort to a minimum. Do as little as possible, but as much as necessary. To find the right balance, try the following: First, envision the minimum marketable product. Secondly, quickly implement the product vision and gather customer and user feedback on early product increments to validate and refine the vision. Thirdly, reduce complexity by creating a simple product – a product that is easy to use and easy to extend and maintain.

Summary
Make sure each scrum team has a shared vision before it starts development. Don’t neglect the visioning work but keep it to the minimum. Put your vision to the test by inviting customers and users to sprint review meetings and by releasing early product increments. Then use the feedback to evolve the product.

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