Microsoft use the term dogfooding, as in to eat your own dog food, when they refer to people inside the company using the latest version of windows or office long before its shipped to customers. This way they get really valuable insight into how the product works and discover any issues or problems.
Some people don’t like the term to eat your own dog food, thinking it unappealing and something you wouldn’t want to do. I’ve heard an alternative used a few times in the public sector – ‘Drinking your own champagne!’. This sounds a little grand to me especially in these times of austerity – although I believe it was a little tongue in cheek.
At 21apps we are using more visualisation techniques and serious games to help our clients with break through thinking, goal alignment and generally changing the way they work for the better. The challenge is that you can’t just read a blog post or book and suddenly become an expert, you need to practice and you need to refine your skills.
2011 was a massive learning curve for us at 21apps, 2012 looks like being the same and we will continue to learn and refine our techniques and skills to help you deliver value from your projects.
Here an example of the things we did this week at 21apps HQ
Pros and Cons – what we do well and what can improve
We reviewed 2011 listing all the good things we did on the right and all the things that made us sad on the left. This helped us get a shared view on things we wanted to do more of and things we needed to change or stop doing.
Often this technique is used during project retrospectives, its a way to reflect on the project and identify areas for improvement. I tend to use dot voting techniques to select the top items to address before/during the next project.
We took all of the elements we wanted to take forward to 2012, good things we wanted to make even better and bad things we wanted to change. Using Innovation Games® we ranked these using 20:20 Vision. This was a really interesting exercise as it allowed us to talk about the priorities but also how these aligned to the culture of the company – even to the point of saying ‘I know if I was still working here this would be much higher’.
Again the value of the visualisation helped with a shared vision for the company and where we saw our priorities.
Business Model Canvas
This technique is something we have used to help understand how 21apps works, where the relationships are with partners and customers, the value proposition we bring and the costs and revenue sources. It’s a fantastic visual framework to allow you to explore your business model – so much so we have created a SharePoint related one that you will see a lot more of over the coming months.
For our review we modelled the AS-IS business at the end of 2011 and then explored the changes we would make and how the stack ranked challenges impacted on this and our vision for 2012. Again using simple visual marker like increased/decreased font sizes to show more/less of a specific item – green text to show new and red text to show removed.
Big Hairy Audacious Goal
We created our BHAG looking at where we want to be in 2014 and beyond, everything we did in our 2011 reflection and 2012 planning always mapped back to the BHAG.
2012 looks promising for 21apps, we know where we are going and if we manage to achieve everything we set out to achieve we will have worked hard but enjoyed every minute of it .