Team Agility Advanced: Focus on Value


Improving Focus on Value

Agile teams should prioritize delivering value over simply completing a quantity of work. This ensures that each story and feature is tied to customer satisfaction, market fit, and business outcomes. By focusing on value, teams can create a prioritization of work that generates returns on investment, fosters customer loyalty, and encourages innovation and efficiency. It also allows teams to pivot more easily when customer feedback, market conditions, or business priorities evolve. Prioritizing value delivery leads to more strategic work, better resource allocation, and ultimately a more successful and sustainable product or service that resonates with customer needs and contributes meaningfully to the organization's overarching goals.

To effectively navigate the complexities of instilling a Focus on Value within agile teams, at Lean Agile Intelligence, we have delineated the learning journey into four distinct stages: Developing, Emerging, Adapting, and Optimizing. The upcoming sections are dedicated to exploring each of these stages in detail, offering actionable strategies and methods designed to strengthen your team's proficiency in prioritizing and delivering value. This deliberate and structured approach serves as a comprehensive roadmap, guiding teams and individuals in honing their ability to align work with customer satisfaction, market relevance, and business outcomes. By advancing through these stages, teams are empowered to transform their operational dynamics, ensuring every effort contributes meaningfully to achieving overarching organizational goals in an agile and responsive manner.


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

  • The What: There is a common understanding amongst team members of their purpose and the value they are creating

    • The How: Agile teams can use tools like user stories, value stream mapping, and impact mapping to represent and align desired outcomes visually. 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. We also recommend creating a shared vision together. More details about vision can be found in this blog post we previously published.
  • The What: The vision and goals of the product/initiative are used to drive backlog prioritization and refinement

    • The How: Agile teams should initiate prioritization discussions by anchoring the conversations around value and clear objectives. They should create a safe, collaborative environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their perspectives and insights. Teams can use 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 teams ensure that the prioritization is driven by tangible benefits and desired outcomes rather than personal biases or isolated opinions. 
  • The What: A wide range of contributors, including those doing the work, are consulted in the prioritization and valuation

    • The How: Teams should operate in 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. Teams can utilize platforms and ceremonies that promote collective dialogue and decision-making, such as collaborative backlog refinement sessions or open forums, to achieve this. Team members should 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 team “emerging” beyond the understanding of the value of Focus on Value and adopting the foundational techniques should focus on the following improvements:

  • The What: All team members can articulate the "WHY" behind a priority decision

    • The How: It's crucial for agile teams to foster clarity in expressing the value of each item in their backlog, be it Features, Epics, or User Stories. Teams should collaborate closely with product owners, managers, stakeholders, and fellow developers to discuss and define the purpose and potential impact of work. By holding sessions that focus on understanding the intended outcomes of backlog items, teams create a shared vision that guides their efforts. To aid this process, teams can utilize tools like templates or guidelines that help articulate value effectively. An approach we find valuable but less commonly practiced is "Feature Injection," which emphasizes starting with the value proposition of a feature before diving into its specifics. An explanation can be found here.

  • The What: Advanced prioritization techniques (i.e., Cost of Delay, WSJF) that include value as a core factor in consideration are used

    • The How: Agile teams should emphasize the importance of value-based prioritization techniques, integrating them seamlessly into their workflow. Using methods such as Cost of Delay (CoD) and Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF), the team underscores the significance of discerning the urgency of backlog items and their intrinsic value to the organization. Additionally, facilitating regular discussions about PBI value and potential impact can help embed these prioritization methods into the team's decision-making process. This proactive approach to prioritization boosts effectiveness and ensures that the highest value and impact are consistently front and center.



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

  • The What: Leverages outcome measures, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer usage, and sales targets, to inform value-based priority decisions
    • The How: To prioritize tasks based on customer value, an Agile team should seamlessly blend various strategies into their workflow. The process begins by embedding feedback mechanisms directly into the product, such as tools for collecting Net Promoter Score (NPS) or using survey platforms, which help gauge the likelihood of customers recommending the product. In tandem, they should implement analytics to understand customer interactions, pinpointing which features are hits and which are misses. This quantitative feedback should be aligned with business goals by working closely with product owners and analysts to understand how product features impact sales targets. 
      • It's crucial to have regular team sessions to delve into these metrics, interpreting them to draw meaningful conclusions about customer satisfaction and business outcomes. The insights gained should then inform backlog prioritization, ensuring that features that resonate with customers and drive business success rise to the top. Moreover, creating a feedback loop to evaluate the effects of released features on NPS, usage data, and sales helps refine future work. All this is done while maintaining a culture of transparency, sharing insights with all stakeholders to support informed decision-making and sustain alignment across the board. This iterative, informed approach ensures that every task the team undertakes is a step towards tangible value delivery.

        There are numerous tools available to Agile teams for gathering feedback, analyzing product usage, and aligning with business goals. Here’s a selection of tools commonly used across the industry:

        1. Feedback Collection:

          • Qualtrics: A comprehensive experience management platform that can capture customer feedback in real-time.
          • SurveyMonkey: A popular tool for creating and distributing customer surveys quickly.
        2. Product Analytics:

          • Google Analytics: Offers insights into website traffic and user engagement.
          • Mixpanel: Allows teams to track user interactions with their product in detail.
          • Amplitude: A product intelligence platform that helps with understanding user behavior.
        3. Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction:

          • Delighted: Simplifies collecting and understanding NPS, CSAT, and CES feedback.
          • Relently: Focuses on NPS collection and analysis to provide customer insights.
        4. Business Intelligence and Data Visualization:

          • Tableau: Offers powerful data visualization to transform business data into actionable insights.
          • Looker: Part of the Google Cloud Platform, provides business intelligence to make data-driven decisions.
        5. User Experience (UX) Testing:

          • UserTesting: Provides a platform for getting real user feedback on your website or application.
          • Optimal Workshop: Offers a suite of tools for improving UX through various forms of testing.
  • The What: Collaborative prioritization techniques (i.e., Value Poker, Participatory Budgeting) are used 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.
    • Parcipitaroy Budgeting: 
        • 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.



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

  • The What: User engagement metrics (i.e., activity, feature usage, etc.), Return on Investment (ROI), and other business outcome metrics are reviewed to validate the effectiveness of the team's solutions

    • The How: For an Agile team to ensure that they are delivering solutions that meet user requirements and contribute to the company's financial goals, it's crucial to establish a rigorous and ongoing process for collecting and interpreting user engagement and business outcome metrics. One way to achieve this is by integrating analytics tools within the product to acquire real-time user activity and feature usage data. The team should collaborate with business analysts to calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) for delivered features, assessing their financial impact. Regular review meetings should be held where the team can analyze these metrics to determine how effectively their solutions fulfill user needs and achieve business objectives. The definition of 'Done' for their work must include confirmation that the deployed work is producing the intended benefits in the production environment, not just development and testing.
      • Based on their metric analyses, the team should adeptly refine their backlog, prioritizing work that enhances user engagement and delivers favorable business outcomes. They may need to pivot away from or cease the development of features that aren't delivering the expected value. This iterative process ensures the team's solutions remain aligned with user requirements and contribute to the company's financial goals.
      • The team should ensure transparency by communicating their findings with all stakeholders. This communication fosters a collaborative decision-making process and builds a collective understanding of the customer and business value. It's this shared insight that enables the team to remain focused on delivering solutions that truly matter to their users and the business.


In sum, the journey towards optimizing a Focus on Value within agile teams is a critical pathway to ensuring that every effort is meaningfully aligned with customer satisfaction, market fit, and business outcomes. As agile teams evolve through the stages of Developing, Emerging, Adapting, and Optimizing, they gradually refine their capacity to not only identify but prioritize work that offers the highest returns on investment, strengthens customer loyalty, and promotes innovation and efficiency. This strategic prioritization of value over volume allows teams to remain agile, responsive to changing customer needs, and market dynamics, and ensures the sustainability of their products or services. If you want to gain a comprehensive understanding of your current team's process status, we recommend taking advantage of our free agile assessment for Team Agility.