Building alignment with share-outsTeams who share their goals by talking about the users and their needs, and invite feedback along the way, are more likely to understand and deliver on those goals together over time. This post focuses on one of the many tools that designers and teams can use to align: Share-outs.
Here we illustrate different styles of share-outs and demonstrate some of the methods the transformation products team designers used to build alignment within a balanced team and how to build alignment in a larger context.
Very often we assume our team is aligned while in reality the team is not aligned. Teams break out into silo work and end up duplicating efforts, or delivering things that aren’t useful.
Why a team needs an alignment?
When to align
There are many occasions a team needs an alignment. Here is a list of some very important milestones for a team:
- Start a new project
- Deciding as a team on a future experience for the users
- Reviewing progress as we deliver
- Starting a new workstream cycle
- Complete a workstream cycle
- Discussing the next bet
There are many different “tools” to align a team. For example, Assumption and question 2×2, hill charts, and Inception.
Here, we will focus on one of the many aspects of aligning a team:
In groups with many people who are working with aligned incentives, the biggest source of disagreement tends to be a lack of context. Investing a bit of time upfront to share context will save us hours and hours in time spent in disagreement.
Share-out is a way to provide context.
Quick and simple share outWhen to use
This is best to update the team of small progress. For example and time, you made some changes, any time you came up with a new idea. This can happen literally any time. An example: In everyday work, share rough diagrams and ideas with the small team and/or workstream. Keep the balanced team informed. Share ideas EARLY.
It doesn’t have to be high fidelity. It can be as rough as a sketch with pen and paper, or an idea jogged down on a napkin. The key is to share ideas early with the team and get feedback. A recent sketch I’ve shared with my team looks something like this image below. By sharing the idea earlier, the engineers on the team and PM on the team were able to give me very early feedback and the team was able to align on users’ needs, business needs, as well as the feasibility of the idea.
Another quick and easy share-out we run as a team is during our daily stand up. The team consists of 19 members across two offices and four workstreams. During the morning daily stand up, the team uses these prompts to share-out:
- What decisions did you make yesterday?
- What did you learn yesterday that could impact another workstream?
- What is blocking your workstream from making progress today?
- What important events do other people need to have in mind?
The share-out doesn’t take very long each morning but was able to surface the high-level insights, concerns, and blockers for the team.Structured share-out
Structure these share out meetings with an agenda (more detailed version with larger team members, share with folks who are not familiar with your specific product or workstream. Prepare and craft the story) When to use
This is best to align different workstreams. Share with folks who don’t work with the specific problem on a day to day basis. Our team schedule this share-out weekly.
Goals: Provide transparency across workstreams
- Share user feedback
- Share takeaways
- Discuss problems we identified
Reduce duplicate effort
- Send the agenda out first
- Use visual aid: Miro board, google slides, docs, whatever format you’re comfortable with!
It is a conversation.l
Below, is an example of how we send out a simple agenda ahead of the share-out, and what has been prepared for a share-out.
Content presented at Design+Doc Fireside Chat. Feb 2020. Thanks for the doc team for inviting the designers and host the event.
Similar to a weekly share-out, the team also schedules design critiques.
- Opportunity for everyone to provide feedback
- Determine whether designs work to achieve a set of objectives (iteration driver)
- Builds shared vocabulary
An example of how we structure a design critique looks like this:
- Problem statement, goals, users (2-5mins)
- Share designs (5-10 mins)
- Silent Critique (10-15 mins)
- Discuss most commented areas(10-15 mins)
Depends on the team size, the design critique can be either a verbal critique or a silent critique. With our team size being 19 members total, silent critiques work well for the team. It provides opportunities for all of the team members to participate and give feedback. The facilitator will then pick the top topics for the team to discuss. Figma is a great tool for the team to collaborate with.
Polished and rehearsed presentation
These are formal presentations to align your team and stakeholders at key points in your process. Take time to prepare detailed visuals, rehearse the presentation and craft the story with care. This is sometimes called Milestone presentation.When to use
This is best to use when sharing with folks who are not familiar with your product. For example, with stakeholders, investors. Those folks who are on the buyer’s map. We try to do this on a quarterly basis. How to tell a story?
Time to tell the story: Consider these elements and how you might arrange them to tell your story
- Introduction of your users, their goals, and needs
- Articulate the user’s pain points and opportunities for improvement (share research insights)
- Illustrate the user’s current scenario Identify (market, product) opportunities. Show user’s “TO-BE” scenario (good time to share a prototype of their new experience)
- Show a plan of action: e.g an Experience-based Roadmap
- Answer questions and gather feedback
We’ve done the work, it is time to share. The example below is an experience report the team prepared for a formal share-out. The meeting was scheduled two weeks ahead. And the folks who presented the experience report rehearsed with the team prior to the presentation.
Within a team:
Share work early and often. This way there won’t be any surprises. Not to your team nor to your investors. Everyone understands and aligned on the research findings, and understand where the ideas came from, how they align to the needs of the users and the needs of the business.
Have regular, routine share-outs with your team at key moments throughout a project, have a cadence to share with stakeholders at major milestones.
Use the right level of share out for the job. Match the share out style and content to your audience.