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Is Your Organization Fit Enough to Build Great Digital Products?

Sometimes I wonder why so few companies in the digital space are successful on a global scale. And why is the vast majority of the successful ones not from Europe? Even more rare is the case that German companies reach world success with a digital business model. Are we doing something fundamentally wrong here? What do European and specifically German companies need to change?

The world has gone digital, and the center of business has shifted online. Yet, too many organizations still lack the expertise and knowledge to develop outstanding digital products. How can your organization excel in the digital arena? How can you make sure that you equip yourself with what is needed? Which muscles do you need to train? Is there a way to assess yourself as a company?

When your body is out of shape and you sign up for a fitness studio, you usually do a test to assess your health status. The trainer will show you the weakest spots in your body and the things you need to take care of especially. Also, the trainer will guide you through some exercises and come up with a plan to bring you back in shape.

Just as a fitness test evaluates your physical health, we at Value Rebels have developed a comprehensive assessment to evaluate the health of your product and tech organization. The assessment contains 9 dimensions and 49 questions on a scale from 1 to 5. It covers different aspects within those dimensions to gain an understanding of the maturity level and areas of improvement.

Fitness Dimensions

1. Leadership

The leadership style is certainly one of the most important aspects when trying to understand an organization's fitness level. We examine whether the leadership approach is context-driven or rather controlling and assess the extent to which teams are empowered to make their own decisions. Furthermore, we assess if the leaders are aligned on a common vision or if they are pursuing different goals.

2. Organization Setup

This dimension aims to understand the organizational setup and its effectiveness in supporting product development. We delve into the structural framework of the organization and investigate whether there is a dedicated Product role in the Executive Team and how Product & Tech are perceived: whether as cost centers or profit centers. We also examine the clarity of roles and responsibilities, the org chart structure, and the health of hierarchical levels.

3. Team Setup

If you are familiar with Marty Cagan's books you are also familiar with the term “fully empowered teams”. To build great digital products we should aim to empower our teams end to end and give them problems to solve instead of features to build. In this dimension of the fitness test, we assess how teams receive their tasks and how independently a team can solve a task end to end. We also aim to understand how teams are scoped and how stable the team topology is.

4. Value Orientation

This dimension aims to understand the organization's focus on value creation and continuous improvement. We explore how success is measured within the organization. We look at whether there are defined metrics for each team or initiative and how regularly customer feedback is collected. We also examine whether teams rigidly follow their roadmaps or adapt based on value generation, and if prioritization is updated with deeper insights.

5. Experimentation Culture

This dimension assesses the strength of the organization's discovery process. We investigate how regularly discovery is conducted within teams, whether assumptions are systematically tested, and how continuously teams improve their "time to insight." Additionally, we consider the speed and frequency with which initiatives are discarded based on experimental results.

6. Guiding Strategy

This dimension evaluates the clarity and effectiveness of the organization's (product) strategy. We examine whether there is a well-formulated strategy, if all teams are aware of it, and how it influences decision-making. We also assess whether teams can prioritize their work based on this strategy. By this we aim to understand how well the strategic direction is defined and communicated throughout the organization.

7. Product Operation

Running a big product organization is hard. And most companies struggle with their operational setup once they grow bigger than 3-5 product teams. In this dimension, we assess whether there is clear visibility into who is working on what and if there are established "ways of working." We also consider the involvement of members from other departments and the adequacy of tools used to support performance. By this, we aim to understand the level of efficiency and transparency of product operations.

8. Tech Capabilities

In this dimension, we evaluate the tech side of things. We look into how often releases are done, the stress levels of teams before a release, and the ease of measuring release success through tech and business KPIs. We also consider whether releases can be targeted to specific customer groups and the solidity of architecture guidelines for system integrations. We also assess how tech debt is managed and by this gain an understanding of the technical robustness of the organization.

9. Talent Management

Last but not least: If you want to have a successful product you need to ensure to have the right people in the right seats. This dimension focuses on how actively talent is managed within the organization. We investigate whether the salary structure matches the requirements and market situation, the attractiveness of the organization to top talents, and the effectiveness of the onboarding process. We also consider whether there are structured measures to ensure employee satisfaction and how leaders deal with the underperformance of team members.

How the Questionnaire Helps

Originally this questionnaire aimed to organize our thoughts, but soon it evolved into a robust model for client discussions. It structures conversations and helps identify transformation strategies.

You can run through the test as an individual or with your whole team, anonymously or openly. You can do it with the leadership team, map the results to your current organization status, and elaborate together on which levers to pull next and what your transformation strategy looks like.

Or, you can book a Value Rebel to run the test with you and help you analyze and interpret the results.

Are you ready to determine if your organization is equipped to develop exceptional digital products? Contact us for a comprehensive assessment and expert guidance.


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