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Starting Your Journey from Project to Product: Celebrate Wins and Learning in Every Level of the Organization

Danny PrestenPosted by

Often organizations can be overwhelmed when thinking about continuous improvement primarily because it’s just that … continuous. It’s easy to lose focus and momentum while on this journey because the day to day effort doesn’t bring about incredible change. This is even more true the longer the journey goes. A key to keeping momentum is carving out time to show learnings and celebrate wins.

Give leadership the stories they need in executive reviews

Leaders are often willing to celebrate success but unfortunately are too far removed from the day-to-day work of their teams and their accomplishments. Compound that with the general human tendency to focus more on problems than success and it’s easy to see why celebrating real wins can be few and far between.  

To counteract this, we find it’s best to schedule standing executive reviews (no less than monthly). As you begin your journey, don’t wait for results to come in, go ahead and schedule this recurring series of meetings. You’ll naturally focus agenda items on challenges but make sure to allocate time in these discussions to share learnings and wins. Don’t share just the data and graphs – share the narrative behind these wins. Stories are a compelling tool for change, enabling you to position the initial challenges, the eventual win and the players that were part of that journey. 

These kinds of stories will stick with the listeners and spread through the organization in a compelling manner. As you provide your leaders with these stories in the executive reviews, you’ll find they are more equipped and can more easily celebrate these critical wins creating an upward spiral that injects positivity and brews confidence that permeates from top to bottom.  

Celebrate wins in team and program ceremonies

Teams are often overwhelmed with the amount of work in their backlog. Consequently, there’s not enough focus on sharing wins in team meetings, rather the primary focus is on blockers and challenges to delivery. While important, this can lead to a low morale among team members. 

Go against this tendency and create intentional space to share positive learnings and wins, not only in retrospectives but in daily stand ups and scrum of scrum meetings as well. Recognizing a  small challenge that’s been overcome or a job well done may feel insignificant at first, but if you consistently take time to do this you will create a team culture that values learning and improvement. Teams that make this a focus have more engagement, more productivity and higher satisfaction leading them to maintain momentum over the long haul.