In 2000, two psychologists based out of California released a study article regarding choice.  Their study set up a display of jam offerings. On one instance, they would offer 24 jam varieties and on another only 6.

On the day that 24 jam varieties were offered, 60% of people stopped by to sample the jams.  Only 40% on the day of 6 jams. If we stopped here, we’d decide that more must be better — but in Business, stopping by doesn’t pay the bills.  We know we’re really onto something when our customers are willing to pay for our products.

Out of the customers stopping by for 24 flavors, only 3% purchased.  When 6 were on display, 30% bought jam.

While choice is appealing at first, it’s overwhelming when it comes to purchase.
 It’s easy to feel lost and unsatisfied wondering, “what did I miss out on by not choosing option #2?”

Harvard Business Review describes the consequences of too many options:

Choice is good for us, but its relationship to satisfaction appears to be more complicated than we had assumed. There is diminishing marginal utility in having alternatives; each new option subtracts a little from the feeling of well-being, until the marginal benefits of added choice level off. What’s more, psychologists and business academics alike have largely ignored another outcome of choice: More of it requires increased time and effort and can lead to anxiety, regret, excessively high expectations, and self-blame if the choices don’t work out. When the number of available options is small, these costs are negligible, but the costs grow with the number of options. Eventually, each new option makes us feel worse off than we did before.

This may be the part where you’re wondering how this relates to Project management software, PM or the future of PM.  Sure, project management isn’t jam. Yet the choices of software and approaches are equally overwhelming and equally bloated in offerings.  Project management has two types of systems out there right now: too much or too little. You can either expect to do everything or barely anything and you’re expected to know how to do it.

This leaves you either spending too much time planning or too little time planning.  Maybe just bored and unwilling to plan. Or using three systems instead of one. Could you do it faster? You don’t know.  Could you do it better? You don’t know — yet all the advertising will tell you that’s what they’ll do for you.

Project management is a tool to ensure that your deliverables are done right, on course, and bringing value to your end users.  If you spend all your time trying to set up your project management (or if you’re setting it up wrong), you’re losing time doing.

Our motto here is that if you’re busy, you’re doing it wrong.

If you are “busy,” something unplanned happened to your project and altered one of the dimensions of the iron triangle: Scope, Time/Schedule or Cost/Resources.
These “unplanned” things happen in every project all the time and they should not come as a surprise; but rather be baked into your planning and delivery process.

We’re project and product managers.  We’ve done this for years. We’re predicting that the future of project management is in doing less so you can do more.  That means solutions that do the best but do it simply.  This is how we got to Leantime.

Leantime is the first opinionated lean project management system.  We took the best practices of design thinking, lean, and agile and put them into a single intuitive system.  Here are the 3 methodologies we adhere to:

Design Thinking:

Good product discovery is the foundation of a successful product — but good product discovery is rooted in understanding your customer and their needs.  This is fundamental to business and building – you want to build what your customer needs and when they need it, they’ll use it.

Design thinking harnesses this foundation by focusing on an iterative process, user focus and user design principles.  It’s why User Research (UX) is so important on a team.

Research Boards

You’ll find this incorporated into leantime via our Simple & Full Research boards and our Idea board.  The Simple Research board is adapted using business principles such as Problem – Solution – Fit and the Full Research board using principles such as lean methodologies.

Idea Board

The Idea board allows you to ideate with team members and clients.  How many times have you had an idea and forgotten it by the time you went to share it with a peer?  Us too.

Lean:

Lean originated in effort to streamline manufacturing – if you identified bottlenecks, prevented them, and decreased effort to accomplish tasks… then you could build more and build faster.  For companies like Toyota? That meant less errors and more money. We believe this can be applied to product and project management for the same purposes.

The Process

You’ll notice there aren’t a lot of places to “go” in leantime.  This is intentional — we’ve created a system that is meant to walk you through the life cycle; from research, ideation, planning and then doing.  Your left sidebar puts Research at your foundation and brings you back up to the areas that you’ll be working in most often.

Kanban Board

The Kanban board was developed during lean manufacturing.  It was the quick visual way to see where you are in your progress and to know what phase things were at.  Instead of post-it notes, you’ll drag and drop cards on the boards here.

Agile:

Agile project management allows you to be flexible with your product roadmap and react quickly to changes in scope and new discoveries. Coupled with Design Thinking, agile product development will allow you to grow as your business grows and adapt quickly.

The Process

Leantime adopted a lot from Scrum and removed parts that we experienced to be overburdening on the teams and process. We believe that each team needs 3 regular meetings: Sprint planning, Backlog grooming and Retrospective.

Backlog

The backlog is the place to list all of your outstanding To-Dos. You can prioritize each To-Do by dragging and dropping them to the “top of your Backlog”. This gives you a simple visual representation of what needs to be worked on next. In addition, each team member knows what they should pick up next in case they are done with their To-Dos ahead of schedule. To-Dos in your backlog should be well defined — that means that it should be clear from the description what is required to finish a To-Do (acceptance criteria).

Sprints

Sprints are two week iterations during which you and your team work on To-Dos that “provide value” to the user. The goal is to be able to ship something at the end of each sprint. You can start a sprint from the backlog view or the Kanban view. Just give it a start date and start dragging To-Dos into your sprint. This can be done during a “Sprint planning meeting” during which you and your team decide what to work on next.

Retrospectives

As much as good product teams need user research, they need to focus on team feedback as well.  Ask yourself: What went well? What didn’t go so well? How can we improve? The focus of a retrospective and the goal should be to improve team performance and moral. How can we work better together and have more fun doing so? Use the retrospective board to keep track of these items and re-reflect if changes to your process worked out or not.

Let’s recap.

Choice is Good.  Too much is bad. Too little in Project Management keeps us unplanned.  Opinionated software is the future. Say Hello to Leantime.
Think we’re on to something?  Check it out.

 

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