Why Agile teams needs to focus on "Future-Back"
Updated: Aug 2, 2021
I've been asked many times "do Agile teams have detailed plans?" and my answer is "it depends", yes definitely detailed plans for the next sprint though less detail for future sprint and less again for future increments of time. The degree of reduction of detail depends on the product, delivery and delivered risk, complexity, team's experience and skill.
There is a phrase used in Team Coaching which is that teams, be them Executive or Leadership teams, Portfolio Management teams or Agile teams that they need to think Future-Back.
"Future-Back" was coined by Professor Peter Hawkins in reference that teams needs to start with their team's, or their product's; purpose, mission and vision before they start looking at the detail of how they plan or even what their plan is. This is just as relevant to Agile Teams, the vision needs to be clearly aligned with the company's vision, value stream's vision and the portfolio's strategy, purpose and vision and only then do they plan backwards to where they are now.
This means that if they are delivering a product they need to understand the Product vision, the customers of the product and the priorities of the product - the future before they move back to plan the shorter term. Without this alignment the teams will not be building the right thing, unlikely the thing right and definitely not at the right speed.