The purpose of the Rise Vision Operating System is to define the artifacts (the documents and other media repositories and tools) and the rituals (the processes and meeting cadences) that we use to execute on;
- always know the customer (ideal customer profile),
- the external situation (market map) within which we serve them,
- our internal state and capabilities (key process flow map, function process flow map and accountability charts, and organization chart),
- to determine what to do, and more importantly - what not to do (attribution framework and activity fit map),
- to position the company (brandscript, brand promise, secret sauce, elevator pitch), and
- deliver the strategy over the next three years (swim lanes, thirty six month rolling forecast),
- quarter over quarter, week over week (sprint lanes, burndown and scoreboards) and
- hold each other accountable (scorecards) for making it happen.
Our big hairy audacious goal is our north star that we are pointing at. It is the direction we are heading. We don’t know what the path is to get there, just which way to point.
Purpose & Values
Why we do what we do, and the values by which we work to achieve our purpose.
Ideal Customer Profile (Brandscript)
Who is our singular customer and what is the story that we are telling them?
Who are our top three to five competitors that we are actively meeting in the market? Or that we feel have the potential to enter our market and we will meet them in the future.
Maps the financial relationship between our customers, the channels by which we reach them, associations that influence them, our suppliers and partners who enable us to fulfill our customers needs, and the competitors that are trying to take our customers from us. The map identifies threats (supply chain, customer concentrations, competition end runs...) and opportunities (association influencers, successful customers, partner and supplier opportunities, competitor weaknesses...).
The criteria (attributes) that our ideal customer profile considers and evaluates when making their purchase of our products. How we, and our competitors, rank for those attributes, and what our target (future) attribution is to create “white space” between us and our competition by taking investment away from one or more attributes to reinvest those resources in other attributes. Net neutral investment preferred.
The activities that we must complete to achieve our target attribution, grouped and summarized into strategic initiatives that together enable our strategy (summarized in one sentence).
The three year, quarter by quarter plan, with one lane for each strategic initiative identified in the activity fit map, with one critical deliverable per quarter across all lanes. Rolled forward one year annually.
Who is accountable for what functional areas and to whom they are accountable.
Roles & Scorecard Templates
The roles that the company needs in order to fulfill the organization chart, and for each role their mission (what they are accountable for achieving), their one critical number by which to evaluate that achievement, and any other supporting metrics to help guide their actions to fulfill their mission.
The compensation paid, within a range, for each role the company requires.
The benefits provided to employees of the company.
Functional Accountability Chart
The critical number and supporting metrics, with leading and lagging indicators, and their targets, for each functional area of the company and each process that is applicable to the function.
Process Flow Maps
The key process flow that maps how money moves through the company by applicable functional areas with supporting process flow maps that detail all functional areas. Each process in a flow map has a corresponding critical number and that result determines the colour (green, yellow, red) of that process on the map.
The three year, quarter by quarter plan, that defines the one thing that we expect each functional area to improve per quarter. Rolled forward one year annually.
The three year, quarter by quarter hiring plans for each functional area. Rolled forward one year annually.
Three year Rolling Forecast
A three year income and cash forecast, updated monthly for actual results, and the actual results are rolled forward to present the long term impact of current achievements against future forecasts. Rolled forward one year annually.
An anonymous quarterly survey of all employees to measure their NPS score for the company, with analysis and identification upon completion of the top three areas to improve.
A survey of the management team to grade the company’s performance against the Rockefeller habits, with analysis and identification upon completion of the top three areas to improve.
The scoreboard is divided up by functional area and by week. Every Thursday, actual results for the critical number and supporting metrics for that function are tracked and compared to their targets. And the sum of all critical number performance results (green, yellow, red) from all functional areas are averaged for the company and rolled up with the functional critical numbers to the summary scoreboard result for the company as a whole. Every thirteen weeks the targets for all metrics are reset for the next quarter.
An epic is an improvement we are making, something new we are doing, a software release, marketing campaign, a rock, not sand, defined by a problem to be solved, an appetite, a measure of success, and where helpful to articulate how this problem will be solved we include the jobs to be done to complete the epic.
The problem to be solved in an epic is the underlying problem. The cause, not the effect, and when considering the problem we ask:
- What happens if we don’t solve this problem? Nothing. Then why are we doing this?
- How badly could we screw up trying to solve this problem? Is the risk worth the return?
- How much are we willing to spend to solve this? Is the expected return (the measure of success) worth that much?
- Can we solve this problem incrementally? Can we build, measure and learn in small batches to manage risk? If we can’t, is the lack of early failure detection worth the risk?
The appetite is the amount we are willing to spend in terms of time and cash to solve the problem. The appetite is fixed. If we run over the epic is cancelled. Ideally the epic will take 6 weeks or less of time and at the maximum a quarter to complete.
The measure of success is an improvement in a metric, ideally a critical number, that is achieved within a time constraint. The measure of success is never a checklist that says we did what we said we would to solve the problem - we solve problems to move quantifiable numbers - we don’t validate what might have been a make work project by saying we completed the work. When reviewing the measure of success we need to ask ourselves if there are other problems to be solved that would achieve a higher return on the effort (appetite), and if there are, should we be solving that problem instead?
Jobs to be done define at a high level what needs to be completed, by whom, and by when, to solve the problem and achieve the measure of success. They should not be so specific that they tell other people how to do their work. They describe outcomes that must be incrementally achieved to complete the epic. We leave how the job to be done is solved to the person who is the expert - the person doing the job.
All Epics are tracked on the metascrum trello board from pre-validation (the management team agrees the epic is worth pursuing) through to post-validation (did the epic achieve the measure of success, and regardless of outcome, what did we learn, and is there anything we want to do next?). Ownership for delivery of the epic can be assigned to the person most capable of implementing it and they will complete the validation, however, accountability for the measure of success performance belongs to the person who created it.
Every epic on a sprintlane has an associated card on the metascrum trello board, and vice versa.
A pitch is an epic that describes a software project that is being considered. It has all of the elements of an epic with the addition of UX (fat marker) sketches, breadboards, no-go’s, must haves, nice to haves, in-app messaging notifications, and any cascading impacts on creative, customer success, support and revenue. Pitches are bet on (selected) by the product council during the software cool down period. (hat tip to BaseCamp for the Shapeup Methodology which this uses)
The theme for every quarter is typically the deliverable defined in the strategic swimlane for the quarter in question. The theme, and our progress towards achieving it, is measured in it’s own sprintlane and burndown. The company is updated on the progress made towards achieving the theme at the top of every weekly share & learn. Achievement is measured by a quantifiable metric and for succeeding we have a celebration reward that every person can spend on a meal, or event, or whatever makes them “happy”. To expense their celebration the only requirement is they post a picture of themselves “celebrating” in the “happy room” slack channel. Our measure of success for our theme has three levels; a green target, which pays the full reward, a red result that if we fall below that there is no reward, and a yellow result, in between red and green, and for that we have an amount for a second place finish that we can all spend, just less than first place.
Every function has a sprintlane, and if there is more than one individual within that function that is singularly accountable for an epic then they too have a sprint lane. The sprint lane is divided up into thirteen columns with one column for every week of the quarter and the deliverables to complete an epic are noted in their expected delivery weeks of the sprint lane. Ideally there is only one epic, and definitely no more than three, per sprintlane that a function, or a person within a function, is pursuing. There is only one deliverable in a week, and the only deliverables in the sprint lane are those that are required to complete an epic. The sprint lane only has “rocks” in it, no “sand”.
Every deliverable required to complete an epic is assigned points based on the perceived effort of that deliverable relative to the other deliverables for the quarter. Each week the work done (points completed) is entered and the outstanding points to complete all deliverables that a person owns is tracked on a burndown chart, with actual versus target results. The burndown chart lets us easily see who is on track and who isn’t, and if they aren’t, we can then take proactive steps to get back on schedule.
The checklist that is followed to hire and onboard new employees and assess them for fit and performance.
Every team meets before Scrum of Scrums and each person in the team describes in thirty seconds or less their number one thing to accomplish that day and if they are on track for their respective deliverables. Once everyone has spoken any discussion items for blocks or other minor organizational issues are resolved. Significant problem solving is broken out into a separate meeting if required. We prefer not to mix “status” meetings with “decision” meetings. They are two different things that do not go well together. A well run standup is done in 5 minutes or less.
Scrum of Scrums
One person from each team that is developing software and content comes to scrum of scrums and they report for their team if they are on track or not, their number one thing for today, and if they have any cross team blocks that need to be resolved. Discussion items are tabled once everyone has spoken, and like a standup, significant problems are broken out into separate meetings to close if required.
Share & Learn
An all hands weekly meeting that reviews where we are at with achieving our theme, financial results, personal learnings, and education sponsored by Learning & Development Funding, and anything new that has shipped.
A weekly meeting of the management team to review scoreboard results and sprintlane (epic) progress. This is a status meeting. Minor issues will be resolved during this meeting but big problems that are uncovered will be assigned an owner and they are accountable for addressing them in followup “decide” discussions.
A weekly meeting of a team to review and improve how they work together.
Scoreboard Update & Review
By Thursday at ten am EST all scoreboards are updated and if a critical number is in the red the owner of that number posts a corrective action describing what is being done to achieve the target, by whom, and by when the number will be back in the green.
A meeting between an employee and the person to whom they report. Conversations are based on what is on the employees mind;
- what’s important to you,
- what’s concerning you,
- what’s challenging you,
- what do you want,
- how are you feeling,
- what are you saying no to,
- what is at risk for you,
- do you have concerns with your critical # or deliverables,
- what’s the number one thing for you for next week,
- what help do you want from me, and
- what do you want me to start, stop or keep doing?
An all hands end of the week toast with the beverage of choice to recognize something “cool” that happened for you, and, or, give a shout out to someone who went above and beyond that week.
A team meets once a month to share lessons learned from a book that they collectively chose to read, and pick a new book that they want to tackle next. If a book is a good one that the entire company could benefit from they are encouraged to present it at share and learn.
The management team reviews the financial results for the month and accounts for any discrepancies in actual versus forecast results. They further pick one thing that the company could do to help improve our financial performance and that one thing, along with our financial results, are presented at the next share and learn.
The product council is responsible for choosing what we build and when to maximize the return on our software development investments.
By EOD Monday, two weeks before a cool down begins, the product strategist and software development manager deliver the product and technical pitches, respectfully, to the product council to be considered for the next sprint. The product council needs choices, not forgone conclusions, and to this end more than 1 pitch per team is tabled for consideration.
On the following Monday, in the week before the cool down (begins on Thursday), the product council meets to review the pitches and decide what each of the development teams will pursue in the next 6 week sprint. It is expected that the product council has reviewed and clarified any questions that they might have about the pitches prior to the meeting.
On the Thursday of the first day of the cool down, 3 days after the pitch review, the software development manager and the product strategist meet with each of the teams to introduce the epics to make sure there is a complete understanding of the problem to be solved, the expected measure of success, and the envisioned means (jobs to be done) to achieve that success.
It should be noted that pitches do not have to originate with the product strategist or software development manager. Anyone can use the pitch templates and training materials to create a pitch and work with the product strategist to refine and present it. It is further expected that the pitches have been reviewed and vetted by the respective development teams to ensure that they are technically viable and can be delivered within a sprint prior to being presented to the council.
A six week software development sprint during which each team is responsible for delivering their epics by continuously reducing the scope of their work to the features and functions that matter the most. Only an escalated issue can interrupt a team during a sprint.
A two week period following a build sprint in which a team addresses defects, technical debt, scorecard reviews, and other administrative and planning activities.
Tech Share & Learn
The Tech Share & Learn provides an opportunity for developers and anyone interested to share technical insights and inter-team knowledge among domain owners. It is held at the beginning of every cool down period.
Scorecard reviews are completed by the owner of the scorecard and their team lead and their overall result determined - A, B or C performance.
The management team reviews scorecard results for all employees and identifies career advancement and improvement opportunities.
Skip Level Review
A skip level review provides a forum for a team to discuss the performance of their team lead with the boss of that lead, and together they collate the improvements that they would like their leader to make. The template for the document that is shared between the team and their leader, and that fully explains the process, can be found here. Skip levels happen ninety days after the completion of the last skip level follow up meeting for the team in question.
At the beginning of the last month of the quarter the management team meets weekly for the month to review and complete the following;
- Rockefeller habits survey results are tabulated and used to identify up to three potential improvements.
- Employee survey results are tabulated and used to identify up to three potential improvements.
- Market map is brought up to date and used to identify up to three potential opportunities to leverage and, or, threats to be mitigated.
- Strategic swimlane completion of the deliverable for the current quarter (the theme for the quarter) , and the deliverable for the coming quarter(s), are reviewed and any epics required to close the current and future deliverables are identified.
- Functional accountability chart metrics that did not achieve their targets, or those that did and we believe we can improve further, are used to enumerate up to three potential improvements.
- Process flow map processes are updated for actual results per process (green, yellow, red) and those processes that are in the red, or that can be made better than their current green or yellow results, are used to identify up to three improvements.
- Functional swimlane completion of the deliverable for the current quarter, and the deliverable for the coming quarter(s), are reviewed and any epics required to close the current and future deliverables are identified.
- Hiring swimlane completion of the deliverable for the current quarter, and the deliverable for the coming quarter(s), are reviewed and any epics required to close the current and future deliverables are identified.
- 3 year rolling forecast results are reviewed and up to three potential improvements are identified to improve our financial performance and, or, financial accountability.
Note; a checklist for the weekly meeting agenda can be found here.
Each functional area’s leader collates their respective epic and action (an action is less than a week’s effort otherwise it should be considered for an epic) opportunities and distills them down to two to three epics (fully described with at least PTBS and HWMS) and one to three actions, and they bring these forward as their recommended improvements to the management team for consideration for the coming quarter. The management team needs epic “comparative” choices. For example, the leader in question recommends that they have the capacity to pursue one epic for the quarter and as such they present at least two possible improvements to consider.
Once epics for the current quarter are finalized all sprint lanes, burn downs, and scoreboards are updated, and the theme with the celebration reward is defined for the coming quarter - this must be done before the end of the month in question, and the start of the next quarter.
Every six months, starting on a Thursday morning, any person, or group, within the company can work on a project of their choosing. Doesn’t matter what it is, the only rule is that they must have something resembling a working prototype to present at FriYay on Friday afternoon. The top 3 winning projects, as chosen by all attending FriYay, will be considered for implementation by a functional area for the next quarter if a non-software project, or the next build sprint if software.
Pricing is reviewed by the product council every six months and where applicable adjustments are made to continuously improve the average revenue per account, gross margins, and annual recurring revenues.
In the first month of the new fiscal year the following are reviewed by the respective functional lead owners and updated where applicable;
- Purpose and values
- Ideal customer profile (brandscripts)
- (if there are significant changes to the ideal customer profile and competition the market map is updated)
- Attribution framework
- Activity map
- Organization chart
- Roles and their corresponding scorecard templates
- Compensation targets & benefits
- Strategic, functional and hiring swimlanes and the 36 month rolling forecast are all extended by one year
And all improvement epics and actions that are identified as part of the annual review are documented and held for consideration in the last month of the current quarter for next quarter's planning.