A highly successful charity, F4S had helped over 300,000 school children learn about the world of work by sourcing thousands of professionals willing to give their time in schools, and the founder was convinced its good work could be extended into the workplace through a spin-out work experience product. Having lost several key team members and without a single source of product leadership, the team just couldn’t seem to get Workfinder out the door. She needed help to firm up delivery and launch the MVP so that it could be piloted, and so that its natural early dependency on F4S could be reduced to allow both to thrive.
My first move was to secure appointment of a product owner to stand between founder and engineering team and funnel & align ever-changing and often conflicting requirements. My second (for some, very unpopular) move was to force the release of the product as she had defined it. My third was to limit access to the dev team from across the organisation, channeling legitimate support queries through designated communication links to reduce the noise interfering with development time, and my fourth was to grant the team’s wish – launching scrum to enable a much more nimble development process.
Quality of communication improved. Cultural issues diminished. I took over engineering leadership, and stepped up advocacy for the development team, as well as support and coaching for the product lead. With increased freedom, the dev team used every bit of free capacity to reduce tech debt, remove architectural risk, and simplify user journeys.
In late summer 2019, Workfinder and its new product spun out into a separate entity and the two organisations were free to pursue their own strategic directions.