Created on February 10th last year, Alan is just one year-old 🎂. And what a year!
It has been very very intense, and we are very proud of where we are today. That being said, it is only the beginning of our very ambitious journey to change the way you live healthcare towards simplicity and transparency.
It is very important for us at Alan that the company be this living entity capable of re-inventing itself over and over again to deliver the best value and the best health experience to our users. Every day, we are spending time on ways to improve the way we work to be more efficient and be an even better place to work. We are amazed at how everybody in the team is working on making Alan a better company.
That is why we decided to spend one week off for our one-year anniversary in a remote place 🌵 where we would focus on our next year roadmap.
It is not often that startups take that kind of time with their entire team to do the thinking that will redefine its goals for the next 12 months. We learned a lot while building this “Product Strategy Sprint” and we felt it would be worth sharing.
You’ll find here illustrated details, on how we worked, what we could have done better and what are our key advices to roadmap a very ambitious future for your own start-up, project, or company.
We have been inspired by several companies, and among them the excellent Sprint from Google Ventures (buy it and read it) from which we adapted key methods.
The goal of the week was to define a product strategy for the year to come.
It usually is something done by a handful of persons in closed offices, even in startups. We wanted it to be a team effort so everyone shares the same vision and understanding of our goals.
That means a large first “discover” phase:
Then, once every idea is defined, build a common understanding among the team:
Evaluate the value and complexity (cost)
During this week, we tried to accomplish all that by creating methods and processes that reduce friction, use time effectively, allow every member of the team to give opinions freely and are reusable.
We hope, you can learn from those, do your own Product Strategy weeks and share your improved methods so we can run our next one even better!
Preparation is key to the success of the week. It is all about ideas and logistics.
We think everyone should have ideas and we cultivate curiosity by encouraging reading about subjects closely and broadly related to Alan’s areas of interests, sharing those on slack, meeting with persons of interest over lunches on monthly bases and doing field trips.
One month ahead of the week, we shared this email:
From Saturday 28th to Saturday 4th we will be in Tenerife to think about the future of the company and our 2017 roadmap.
It will be a very important week that will shape our product strategy. So I would like all of you to take some time to think about it before we are there. Please put a slot in your todo / calendar so you do it 😀
I want to ask you to think about the important topics that will make Alan better for our users (and for us as well). Please share all your ideas to email@example.com.
Ideas are about product features, improvements, organisation. Every idea is welcome. If you can also share who do you think should lead the initiative and how it should be done, that would be great (but not mandatory).
The final question is: “We are in February 2018, what company do we want to be? How did we achieve that goal?”
What should your team do with that email?
On logistics, you need to to have all the right tools to work efficiently. Our check-list is:
Coloured sticker dots (different sizes and colours)
Like in Google Venture’s Sprint methodology, we think 5 days is a good duration. It could be one day longer or shorter but not much more (beyond, you’ll lose momentum, under, difficult to do extensive work). As, it is very intensive, we took a day off in the middle (between 3rd and 4th day). 😎
Days are split in two, morning and afternoon sessions, both between 3 and 4 hours tops including 15-min break at some point. In our case, 10AM to 1PM, 2PM to 5PM, adding 30min to 60min if necessary.
We will describe the Sprint half day by half day to give you an overview on how we worked, what were the objectives, the way we achieved it.
To paraphrase Google Ventures Sprint, a good Sprint team is a mix of people (ideally 7, but we were a bit more, 9) with:
Objectives of the day:
The result for us:
Be the best health insurance for our users (from v0 today to v1).
Every new companies chooses Alan.
Every freelancer chooses Alan.
Great visibility on the market.
We have signed more than XX,XXX users.
We have an amazing user experience and customer service.
We have set up scalable back-end / admin tools to manage this volume of users (and even more) and to be ready to open new countries.
We have just launched a new killer feature in health management.
We are still a great place to work with a small and efficient team regarding the size of our problem.
Then write the goal definition on a wall and read it again every morning!
Discussed and finalised decision framework for estimating the value of ideas:
The result of this grid really depends from your company, project and ambition. Ours is:
🍽 🍱 🍦 ☕️
Now it is time for a big round table of ideas.
First, everyone uses their list prepared for the week, and translate every idea on a post-it. Ideas should be written as a short user story and should be precise. It means they need to have a clear scope by listing the problem you are solving and the solution you are proposing.
⏰ 30 minutes
Then it’s presentation time!
Organise the ideas in different categories. The goal is to group similar themes physically in the same place
⏰ 15 minutes
At the end of this phase, everyone shares a basic understanding for all ideas brought up by the team.
Assignment for the next day: think of new ideas for the next morning, inspired by ideas shared this day.
Objectives of the day:
This day is about removing a first selection of ideas and handpick the ones that need to be explored and defined with more depth:
This last step also helps to see if questions are relevant for specific topics. Keep it short and effective, you can do that by splitting it in two subgroups.
🍽 🍱 🍦 ☕️
Sketch phase on your first project (directly based from GV Sprint)
Objectives of the day:
⏰ 20 minutes
🍽 🍱 🍦 ☕️
First, finish review of the wall with same method.
Then, review to chose complete user journeys
⏰ 10 minutes
The idea for this part of the afternoon is to value every ideas in subgroup. We believe that we work better independently when we have a shared knowledge of the way we should think. We have created subgroups and we trust the other subgroups for their review of the value of the other projects.
This task is very very important because it will be a key element of decision when we will compare value to cost, and where we’ll need to be sure we have priced what we have valued.
We visited the Teide volcano 🌋🌋🌋🌋🌋🌋
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