Agile Leader - Enabling Value Delivery

Integral Agile Business Value


An agile leader “developing” an understanding of the value of Enabling Value Delivery and adopting the foundational techniques should focus on the following improvements:

  • The What: Facilitates conversations with stakeholders (i.e., business owners, customers, product management) to ensure that team members understand their purpose and the value they are creating.

    • The How: An Agile Leader facilitates meaningful conversations with stakeholders by creating an open, inclusive environment that encourages dialogue and collaboration. They begin by setting clear expectations about the purpose of the conversation, ensuring all voices are heard, and promoting active listening. They help stakeholders articulate their needs, priorities, and expected outcomes by asking probing questions. Additionally, Agile Leaders use tools like user stories, value stream mapping, and impact mapping to visually represent and align on desired outcomes. By bridging the communication gap between technical teams and non-technical stakeholders, they ensure a shared understanding of the value being created. Regular feedback loops and review sessions, such as sprint reviews, keep stakeholders engaged and informed, adjusting direction to maximize value delivery. Throughout this process, the Agile Leader emphasizes the importance of collaboration, transparency, and a shared commitment to delivering customer value.
  • The What: Facilitates product/initiative prioritization discussion with stakeholders, always leading with value and clear objectives.

    • The How: An Agile Leader facilitates product or initiative prioritization discussions with stakeholders by anchoring the conversations around value and clear objectives. They would create a safe, collaborative environment where stakeholders feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and insights. The leader would introduce frameworks or methods, such as the MoSCoW method (Must have, Should have, Could have, Won't have) or Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF), to objectively assess and rank the importance and impact of various items. By leveraging data, customer feedback, and market trends, they'd guide stakeholders to make informed decisions that align with the organization's strategic goals. Through effective questioning and active listening, the Agile Leader ensures that the prioritization is driven by tangible benefits and desired outcomes rather than personal biases or isolated opinions. By constantly reinforcing the principle of delivering maximum value, the leader fosters alignment and consensus among stakeholders, ensuring that
  • The What: Ensures a wide range of contributors, especially those doing the work, engage in upcoming work's prioritization and valuation process.

    • The How: An agile leader should champion a culture of open collaboration and transparency, ensuring that a diverse array of contributors, especially those directly involved in the work, participate actively in the prioritization and valuation of forthcoming tasks. The leader might utilize platforms and ceremonies that promote collective dialogue and decision-making, such as collaborative backlog refinement sessions or open forums to achieve this. Additionally, by providing the necessary tools, training, and an environment where all voices are valued, the leader empowers team members to bring their unique insights and experiences forward. This collective engagement amplifies the likelihood of delivering the most valuable outcomes and fosters a sense of shared ownership and accountability among team members.


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  " If you only quantify one thing, quantify the cost of delay. – Don Reinertsen"

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An agile leader “emerging” beyond the understanding of the value of Enabling Value Delivery and adopting the foundational techniques should focus on the following improvements:

  • The What: Ensures a wide range of contributors, especially those doing the work, engage in upcoming work's prioritization and valuation process.

    • The How: An agile leader should actively promote and support clarity in articulating the value of committed backlog items. To ensure each item, such as Epics or User Stories, clearly explains its value, the leader should encourage collaboration between product owners, business stakeholders, and the development team. By facilitating sessions where the purpose and potential impact of each backlog item is discussed and defined, the leader fosters a shared understanding across the team. This process can be supported by providing templates or guidelines on expressing value concisely. One format not widely used but we recommend is “Feature Injection,” where the value is ALWAYS stated first. An explanation can be found here.

  • The What: Leverages prioritization techniques (i.e., Cost of Delay, WSJF) that include value as a core factor

    • The How: An agile leader should emphasize the importance of value-based prioritization techniques, integrating them seamlessly into the team's workflow. By championing methods such as Cost of Delay (CoD) and Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF), the leader underscores the significance of discerning the urgency of tasks and their intrinsic value to the organization. To effectively leverage these techniques, the leader should provide training sessions or workshops to ensure the team understands and can apply them appropriately. Additionally, facilitating regular discussions about task value and potential impact can help embed these prioritization methods into the team's decision-making process. This proactive approach to prioritization boosts efficiency and ensures that the highest value and impact are consistently front and center.

  • The What: Helps facilitate the creation of MVP and helps drive scope negotiations so that value is delivered sooner.
    • The How: An agile leader should assist teams in understanding and embracing the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) concept as defined in the Lean Startup methodology. The MVP is the simplest version of a new product that allows a team to begin the learning process as quickly as possible, typically used to validate or invalidate a hypothesis. When it comes to scope negotiations, the agile leader should emphasize the idea of treating product development as a series of hypothesis tests. Instead of locking into a fixed scope, the focus should be on determining the minimal features required to test a particular hypothesis about user needs or market demand. By centering discussions around the hypothesis, the leader can guide stakeholders and the development team towards aligning on a narrowed scope that accelerates learning and ensures that value is delivered more rapidly. This approach fosters an environment of experimentation and adaptation and ensures that resources are optimally utilized to deliver value that resonates with user needs and market dynamics.


An agile leader “adapting” beyond the understanding of the value of Enabling Value Delivery and adopting the foundational techniques should focus on the following improvements:

  • The What: Promotes the use of collaborative prioritization meetings (i.e., Value Poker, Participatory Budgeting) to gain different perspectives and create a broader view of value
    • The How: Value Poker, inspired by Planning Poker used in Scrum for effort estimation, is a technique that can be used for prioritizing based on value. Here's a step-by-step breakdown of how an agile leader might enable a Value Poker session:

      • Preparation: Define Items for Prioritization: Ensure you have a clear list of items, features, or projects that need prioritization. Set the Scope: Clearly outline what 'value' means for this session (e.g., user benefit, revenue potential, strategic alignment).
      • Gather Necessary Materials: Prepare poker cards (or digital equivalents) with different values representing priority levels or perceived value.
      • Assemble the Team: Gather a diverse group of stakeholders, including developers, designers, business analysts, and possibly even customers or end-users. Ensure everyone understands the objective of the session and the criteria for value.
      • Presentation of Items: One by one, present each item to the group, ensuring a shared understanding of what it entails.
      • Individual Evaluation: Participants silently consider the value of the presented item. They select a poker card that represents their estimation of its value.
      • Reveal & Discuss: Participants reveal their cards simultaneously. If there's a large value discrepancy, ask participants to explain their rationale. This is where valuable discussions and insights emerge.
      • Consensus: After discussion, a second round of voting can be held if necessary. The goal is to reach a consensus; if impossible, an average or median value can be taken.
      • Document Results: Record the agreed-upon value for each item. This will serve as a basis for product roadmaps, sprint planning, or resource allocation decision-making.
      • Review & Reflect: After the session, evaluate how the process went. What went well? What could be improved? Adjust the process as needed for future Value Poker sessions.

The agile leader's role in this process is to facilitate and ensure that every voice is heard and that discussions remain constructive. Promoting the sharing of diverse perspectives they help the team reach better-informed decisions about value and priority.

    • The How: Participatory Budgeting (PB) in an agile context involves a wide range of contributors, especially those directly impacted, in resource allocation and prioritization based on value propositions. Here's a step-by-step breakdown of how an agile leader might enable a Participatory Budgeting session:

      • Setting the Stage: Determine the Budget: Define the total amount of resources (money, time, people) available for allocation. Identify Items/Initiatives: Create a clear list of items, projects, or initiatives that need funding or resourcing.
      • Communicate Purpose: Ensure all participants understand the goal of the PB process and what 'value' means in this context.
      • Gather Stakeholders: Assemble a diverse group, including team members from various departments, possibly customers or end-users, and any other relevant parties.
      • Clarify roles: Some might be decision-makers, some might be there to provide insights, and others might be observers.
      • Proposal Development: Teams or individuals develop formal proposals for the items/initiatives they believe should be funded. Each proposal should clearly outline expected outcomes, value delivered, required resources, and other relevant metrics.
      • Proposal Presentation: Present each proposal to the group, ensuring a shared understanding of its implications and potential value.
      • Discussion & Deliberation: Allow for open discussion about each proposal. Encourage questions, seek clarifications, and discuss potential risks and rewards. Ensure that all voices are heard and diverse perspectives are considered.
      • Voting: Participants vote on which proposals they believe should be funded, given the available budget. This can be done using various methods, such as dot voting, rank-order voting, or allocation games where participants distribute "money" among proposals.
      • Allocate Resources: Based on the voting results, allocate the defined resources to the winning proposals. Ensure transparency in the allocation process.
      • Implementation: Put the decided budget allocations into action and kick-start the funded initiatives or projects.
      • Review & Feedback: After a set period, review the outcomes of the funded initiatives. Did they deliver the expected value? Gather feedback on the PB process itself. What worked well? What could be improved?
      • Iterate: Adjust and refine the PB process based on feedback for future sessions.

The agile leader's role throughout the process is to champion transparency, ensure inclusivity, facilitate constructive dialogue, and guide the team towards value-oriented decisions. When done effectively, participatory budgeting can empower teams, foster a sense of ownership, and lead to better, more informed decisions about resource allocation.

  • The What: Leverages outcome measures, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer usage, and sales targets, to inform value-based priority decisions
    • The How: An agile leader recognizes the importance of outcome over output. Rather than merely focusing on the features delivered or tasks completed, they pivot toward the tangible effects and benefits these deliverables have on the customers and business. To make value-based priority decisions, the leader starts by aligning teams around key outcome measures. Firstly, they educate and create awareness among the team about the relevance of these metrics. The team becomes more outcome-centric by understanding the significance of NPS, which gauges customer loyalty and satisfaction; customer usage metrics, indicating product engagement and value; and sales targets that reflect market demand and revenue goals. To ensure these metrics are not just theoretical, the agile leader integrates them into the team's regular review cycles. For instance, during backlog refinement or prioritization sessions, the leader discusses how proposed features or changes might influence these outcome measures. By asking questions like, "How might this feature increase our NPS?" or "Will this change drive higher customer engagement?", they ground priority decisions in tangible results.

      o   The leader collaborates with cross-functional teams, such as sales, marketing, and customer support, to gather insights from these metrics. This collective intelligence ensures a well-rounded perspective and reduces bias in decisions. As priorities are set and work progresses, the leader encourages frequent validation. They set up feedback loops, such as customer interviews, usability tests, and A/B testing, to gauge the actual impact against the desired outcomes. The results feed back into the prioritization process, ensuring the team is always aligned with delivering the highest value. Finally, the agile leader fosters a culture of learning and adaptability. They emphasize that while outcome measures are crucial, they are not set in stone. As market dynamics shift, customer needs evolve, and new data emerges, the leader ensures that the team recalibrates its strategies and priorities, always focusing on the ultimate value delivery.


An agile leader “optimizing” beyond the understanding of the value of Enabling Value Delivery and adopting the foundational techniques should focus on the following improvements:

  • The What: Teaches and shares advanced techniques to enable Value-driven decisions outside of those they directly support (i.e., Communities of Practice, Workshops, Mentoring)
    • The How: For an agile leader to teach and share advanced techniques that enable value-driven decisions beyond their immediate teams, they must utilize a multifaceted approach that leverages both structured and informal learning environments. Here’s how they might accomplish this:

      • Establishing Communities of Practice (CoP): CoPs are collaborative networks where individuals share knowledge, learn, and improve on a particular domain or topic. An agile leader can initiate and support these communities by Identifying champions or enthusiasts who can lead the CoP—providing platforms (physical or digital) where members can meet, discuss, and share and encouraging cross-functional participation to get diverse perspectives.
      • Conducting Workshops: Workshops are structured sessions where participants can learn and practice new techniques in a hands-on environment—design workshops around specific value-driven techniques and tools. Use real-world examples and case studies to make learning relevant. Encourage participants to bring their challenges and address them during the workshop, providing immediate value.
      • Offering Mentoring Programs: Personalized guidance is invaluable, and mentoring is a great way to transfer knowledge and experience. Pair experienced individuals with those eager to learn. Encourage a two-way flow of information where both mentor and mentee can learn from each other. Set clear goals and checkpoints to measure the progress and success of the mentoring relationship.
      • Hosting Regular 'Lunch and Learn' Sessions: Informal sessions where a team member or external expert talks about a specific topic over lunch. Keep them casual and interactive, allowing participants to ask questions and share their insights. Rotate speakers to tap into the diverse knowledge base of your organization.
      • Leveraging Digital Platforms: Use online platforms to widen the reach. Start a podcast series or webinars on value-driven decision-making topics. Create an internal repository of resources, like articles, videos, and templates, accessible to all.
      • Facilitating Cross-team Reviews: Periodically, get teams to showcase their work and decisions to other teams. Please encourage them to highlight the value-driven techniques they employed. This not only spreads knowledge but also fosters a sense of accountability.
      • Promoting External Learning: Encourage team members to attend conferences, seminars, and courses. They can then share their newfound knowledge with the rest of the organization.
      • Feedback and Adaptation: Just as in agile practices, gather feedback on the learning initiatives and continuously improve. Understand what's working and what's not, and be willing to adapt your approaches accordingly.



An agile leader who prioritizes and enables value delivery is indispensable to an organization's success. Such a leader recognizes that delivering features or adhering to timelines is not enough in today's dynamic and competitive marketplace. True success lies in delivering tangible value to customers, addressing their needs, and resolving their pain points. By fostering a value-centric culture, agile leaders ensure that teams remain aligned with customer demands, make informed and impactful decisions, and continually reassess priorities based on feedback and changing conditions. This focus on value leads to satisfied and loyal customers and cultivates an engaged and motivated workforce, driving innovation and profitability. In essence, an agile leader's emphasis on value delivery becomes the compass that guides an organization toward sustained success.