The Lean and Agile movements have helped thousands of organizations vastly improve their ability to produce technology centric products with high reliability and quality. Less attention has been given to how companies decide what to build in the first place. There are often far more ideas and opportunities to pursue than the product development capacity of the organization can invest in at one time. How do entrepreneurial leaders of large enterprises make the best decisions on where their new product dollars should go?

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) addresses these strategic product decisions in the Portfolio layer guidance through a Kanban process where all new ideas are welcomed, then reviewed and analyzed for go/no go decision making that determine which new initiatives are prioritized for implementation by product development. In Eric Ries’ new book The Startup Way, he describes how his advice to the “unicorns” in The Lean Startup can be applied by “the horses” (the larger, established market incumbents) for this same innovation vetting process. This session will synthesize the two bodies of knowledge to provide practical, fresh thinking to senior leaders for creating portfolios of experiments. Attendees will learn how to base product development decisions on validated learning from real customers, fusing an entrepreneurial approach with rigorous decision making for guiding new product investments.

Topics covered will include:

– Fueling innovation through a “think big, start small, scale fast” continuous exploration process
– Incorporating the responsibilities of a Growth Board into SAFe Lean Portfolio Management
– Creating a portfolio of experiments to drive investment decision making through minimum viable products, evidence, experimentation, and vision vs. vanity metrics
– Translating the most promising experiments into Epics for development by Agile Release Trains (ARTs) based on validated learning and innovation accounting metrics
– Shifting from project based entitlement funding to value stream metered funding with appropriate liability constraints
– Aligning the Portfolio Kanban to Ries’ recommendations for scaling product exploration
– Cultivating entrepreneurship as a core discipline and competency in leader development

Participants will engage with the topics through a variety of interactive exercises that reinforce learning and retention of the ideas presented. A list of resources and references will be provided as a handout and and will also be included in the downloadable presentation file available to conference attendees.

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