Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kano and Agile

Kano analysis is a new product feature/function evaluation tool that gives visualization to feature/function relative merit over time as trends change. The usual presentation is a four-sector grid with trend lines that connect the sectors.
The grids are defined by the horizontal and vertical scales that are easily set up on a white boad in the war room (don't take the word 'scale' too seriously; for the most part this is uncalibrated opinion):
  • Vertical: customer attitude
  • Horizontal: some quality (or metric) of the feature/function that's important to the customer.

The trends need not be linear, and need not be monotonic, changing direction as customer/user attitudes change (Again, an equation can be defined for these lines, but the focus here is not on the exact formula of the line, just the general notion).

Agilists use the Kano board with sticky notes to show how feature/function in the form of stories might play out over time.

 And, we take the trouble to do this because:
  • There's only so much investment; it needs to be applied to the best value of the project. Presumably that's the "ah-hah!" feature, but the "more is better" keeps up with competition; and, some stuff just has to be there because it's expected
  • Trends may influence sequencing of iterations and deliveries. Too late, and decay has set in and the market's been missed.
  • The horizontal axis may be transparent to the customer/user, but may not be transparent to regulators, support systems, and others concerned with the "ilities". Thus, don't forget about it!
Now, wouldn't you like to have been a fly on the wall in the Apple war room a few years ago when they debated doing away with the floppy drive; or, more recently, the spinning disc. I wonder how they drew the trend lines and made their investment decisions?

How far ahead of the trend can you be and not be too far ahead? Just a rhetorical question to close this out.