After the release is before the next release. So, work on continuous improvements.

Optimization Phase
Optimization Phase

Key Objectives / Key Questions

Derive key learnings and find ways to optimize, the team, the collaboration, as well as the product.

Key Activities

  • Organize team retrospectives to improve the way of working
  • Review internal processes to remove obstacles and improve collaboration
  • Inspect staffing of teams and roles of team members to optimize the team topology
  • Discuss dependencies amongst teams to minimize in future projects
  • Revisit tech debt that might have been created to not allow it piling up
  • Monitor all customer feedback channels, categorize customer inputs, and discuss with the Engineering and UX teams
  • Interview those customers who offered representative insights or unclear new requirements
  • Start continuous discovery again

Exit Criteria

Stop when you have achieved the targets or you believe other initiatives are more promising.

Involved Team Members

  • The Product Leader and the Engineering Leader are in the lead and accountable.
  • Agile coaches can help to facilitate retrospectives, organize meetings, and follow up with actions
  • The entire product team (Product Managers, UX Research, UX Design, Engineering) are involved.
  • Optionally, team members from Consulting, Customer Success, or other departments may join in.

Tools and Techniques

  • Trust, trust, and trust to ensure psychological safety
  • Team retrospectives to share learnings across the entire team
  • Icebreaker games to warm up and open the retrospective session
  • Metrics across the entire process to provide data beyond emotions, e.g. around velocity or lead time of features
  • Transparency, openness, and documentation to ensure valuable outcomes of the meeting
  • All the tools and techniques discussed in Idea Collection, Problem Discovery, etc. phases to help get back to the process loop

Things to Watch out for

  • Don’t rush. Not planning enough time for retrospectives, creates the impression it is not important and only done because we have to. And not digging into customer problems first but rushing into fulfilling a customer’s request will jeopardize all established efforts and mindset in the previous phases.
  • Specifically in retrospective meetings:
    • Find the right team size. Too few participants and many relevant people will be missing. Too many and it will become hard to give everybody a voice. Depending on on-site vs. remote events as well as tooling, the ideal number of participants varies.
    • Consider inviting management. Depending on company culture and openness inside the team, it might sometimes help to not have executives in the room.
    • Address the good things as well as the bad things. Of course, find areas to improve but also include aspects that worked out well to avoid a negative mindset.
    • Summarize and follow up so that everyone on the team knows what’s next and sees value in these retrospective meetings.
  • Specifically in responding to customer feedback:
    • Categorize it. Go back to product vision and strategy, identify and prioritize those that fell into strategic pillars.
    • Loop in both the customers and their point of contact in the company, e.g. Customer Success or Consultant. It will not only save time answering questions regarding progress but also make it possible to receive timely clarifications from customers.


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