Production Process Overview

Context

Our production workflow is outlined in full within the 🛠️Production handbook. This is a summary overview, particularly aimed at new people, to get an overall sense of how we get things done.

Principles

This is the universal workflow that we believe in. This is a good way to get anything done, whether that’s making a meal, building a bridge, fixing the healthcare system or building a website. It doesn’t matter. This workflow is informed by agile scrum, Getting Things Done, Holocracy and other amazing work done by productivity experts to understand how work gets done most efficiently.
  • Organizations exist to fulfill Objectives. In some organizations these will be very aspirational, big picture changes that the organization wants to make in the world. In service-driven organizations, the Objective is typically to serve the client. Leadership is responsible for picking the Objectives and making them clear to the whole team. A single leader should be accountable for each Objective.
  • Objectives are fulfilled through Projects, which are discrete chunks of work that will contribute to solving the Objective, and may take anywhere from one week to one year.
  • All Projects are composed of Tasks, which are even smaller bits of work that can be accomplished mostly by a single person in a single week.
  • Objectives, Projects, and Tasks solve a particular problem or make a particular improvement. This is the “acceptance criteria.” They should have clear constraints on the resources and time available to solve them, based on the organization‘s needs and what the acceptance criteria is worth.
  • Objectives, Projects, and Tasks should have a single person who is made “accountable”. This person is judged by whether the acceptance criteria is met. This person must also have full ownership to make the direct decisions about the Objective/Project/Task, without interference. This person should volunteer to be accountable and should never be forced into it.
  • Objectives, Projects and Tasks should have a publicly visible timeline. When there is a real consequence to delivering by a certain date, the Project or Task should have a deadline that is respected at all costs.
  • Objectives, Projects, and Tasks must be visible to the whole team in a Shared System, with all relevant information documented and nothing kept in people’s heads. The Shared System must be the canonical source of truth about the plan, status, and challenges the team is handling. The team must use and review the shared system regularly to ensure that it is accurate and reflects the ideal plan at any given time.
  • The team must agree on a Plan and organize it in the Shared System. The plan should include full clarity on what must happen now, loose clarity on what must happen soon, and a big-picture view of what must happen later.

Summary

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  • An organization’s purpose is to fulfill Objectives.
  • Objectives are fulfilled through Projects.
  • Projects are composed of Tasks.
  • Objectives, Projects, and Tasks should be publicly visible in a Shared System in which all aspects are documented.
  • The shared system is where the team should agree on a Plan.
  • Any given Objective, Project, or Task has one accountable person who is judged on whether they fulfill the Objective, Project, or Task within the known constraints. People should choose what they want to be accountable for, knowing the constraints.

With this formula we believe you can solve any problem.

Specifics

This is specifically how Cantilever implements the principles above.
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For each client we have a StrategistStrategist who is accountable for that client’s success and gets to make decisions about how we serve that client without interference.

We have five 🙌Services. For each service we are delivering, there is either a 📝Scope of Work (SOW) or 🗺️Project Plan that describes what we have agreed to deliver and on what constraints. The first step in any work happening is that the StrategistStrategist and client must agree on these terms.

Then, the Project ManagerProject Manager must break the work down into Tasks. A task is a discrete piece of work that can be done mostly by a single person.

Tasks tend to be pretty similar between instances of a given service. For example, in any 🔍Diagnostic we need to conduct some research, conduct meetings, and write a report. Any given Diagnostic may have other types of work scoped in, but there tend to be a lot of common elements.

Each Task is written in AsanaAsana as a part of a 🎁Project and must be “clarified” before it can be worked on. Clarifying a task means writing down all the information someone would need in order to take it on (The most common format is Overview, Constraints, Definition of Done, Estimate, Due Date, and Approval Plan).

A Task should be written assuming that the assignee does not have a lot of background knowledge. This makes the tasks “portable” because it makes it possible for people who don’t have much experience with that project to take them on.

Every Task that should be worked on must also be put into the 🏄Big Board in AsanaAsana , which is run by the Big Board BossBig Board Boss. At the end of each week, during the 📆Weekly Planning Meeting, we review all the Tasks that were planned for the week and ensure that they are on track for completion. We then review all Tasks scheduled for the upcoming week, and set the assignees, with affirmative consent from each assignee on each Task. The Big Board also contains a rough sense of what the schedule is for Next Week and a Backlog of items scheduled beyond next week.

Each assignee is accountable for delivering the Task by the stated deadline, which likely involves deploying a change live, or getting approval from a client. Assignees are free to communicate directly with clients to expedite the process and simplify the workflow.slacklack