When Busy Becomes a Buzzword: The Art of Value-Driven Work

In the bustling world of product development, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “busy.” Teams often find themselves knee-deep in a backlog that’s more about tasks and components than meaningful increments of value. But here’s the thing—being busy isn’t the same as making an impact.

Why Value Over Tasks?

1. Purpose and Motivation

We’re on a constant quest for purpose. Decades of research echo this sentiment: we thrive when we see our efforts positively impacting others. When we pivot our focus from technical tasks to creating customer value, that connection becomes crystal clear.

2. The Tangible ROI

Value-driven teams have a rhythm – they deliver value frequently, giving them more chances to see real returns on their investment. Contrast this with a task-oriented approach, where the cost of development accrues without yielding immediate benefits. It’s like waiting for a delayed train that might not even head in the right direction.

3. Learning Through Doing

There’s no better teacher than experience. Shipping a product or presenting it for feedback is invaluable. It’s difficult to glean such insights from a mosaic of unfinished features. When our work aligns with delivering value, feedback becomes not just frequent, but also more insightful.

4. Sharp Focus

Emphasizing value helps teams cut through the noise. It’s about being laser-focused on what matters, sidestepping unnecessary variations and frills. A task-oriented approach, however, often leads to low-value work sneaking into our products.

The Path to Value-Driven Work

So, if your team is mired in task-oriented work, it’s not a deliberate choice against impactful outcomes. It’s often a lack of know-how in efficiently breaking down big ideas into impactful features and user stories.

Fortunately, you can learn those skills in a matter of days and put them to work right away. Three ways to do it before the end of the year:

  1. Dive into our comprehensive “Humanizing Work Guide to Splitting User Stories” and do the practice activities described in the guide.
  2. Join Richard’s live online Certified Scrum Product Owner workshop, coming December 5-7, 2023.
  3. Explore our new self-guided online course, 80/20 Product Backlog Refinement.

Shift from just being busy to creating value every day, and you and your team will enjoy more purpose, ROI, learning, and focus.

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