Wikimedia Product/Technical Program Management/Spectrum of Success
This page is currently a draft.
The Spectrum of Success is a tool and practice used to measure success by leveraging baseline expectations. It is most commonly deployed for situations where quantitative measurement is challenging (for example, whether or not a program manager is considered successful). It is borrowed and adapted from a workshop practice originated by Matt Thompson, where it is designed to inform whether an offsite or workshop is meeting agreed upon goals.
Approach and Format Edit
Suggested approach: Ask yourself, "What are we trying to achieve, and why?" Try to avoid focusing on, "how are we going to achieve it?" This approach allows for many different strategies to meet or exceed expectations. For example, "facilitate standup meetings" is a strategy for meeting specific needs (e.g. shared understanding of team work, building teamyness, freeing up other team leaders to focus on their disciplines such as product and engineering, etc). This approach recommends that the expectation be "meet the need" rather than "do this thing that we assume meets the need." This also makes room for diversity of perspective. There is rarely only one way to accomplish something.
It is tempting to start with strategy. It's even likely that you're using this tool because you want to measure if a specific strategy is working! That's OK. Sometimes it is clearer to start with a specific strategy in mind. In this case, "facilitate standup meetings" is the strategy. The need can be reverse engineered from this by asking, "why do we need standup meetings facilitated, and what value does that approach give us?"
The Spectrum of Success usually leverages the following four categories. It is typical for each one to beget the next.
If these are true, we either can’t work together or haven’t collaborated at minimum expectations.
- We don't know what we expect of one another.
- We know what is expected of each other, and have capacity to meet those expectations, but don't.
If these are true, we are meeting expectations, if not necessarily achieving what we want to. These must be true to avoid failure. This is typically the opposite of "Failure".
- We know what we expected of each other, and have capacity to meet those expectations.
If these are true, we are not only meeting expectations, but achieving our shared goals. This section represents the outcome we reasonably desire.
- We know what we expect of one another, and proactively seek to iterate on that as it inevitably changes, rather than waiting for needs to be stated.
If these are true, we are exceeding expectations. This section is meant to both create aspirations as well as remind us that these are not reasonable expectations, even if we love this outcome. It is also a place to identify celebrations of exceptionalism.
- We anticipate one another's needs without explicit communication or prompting, and without unusual exploration.