What is Pulse? In Pulse there are daily stand-up meetings, visual management and frequent demonstrations. Pulse encompasses all development work, from strategy, priorities and ideation to projects, product care and resource allocation.
If you visit a company that works with Pulse you will find a Pulse room where the walls are covered with whiteboards filled with information, referred to as Pulse boards. If you look closer at these boards you’ll see that several of the boards look alike.
These are the Pulse project boards. There are also a lot of boards that stand out. On first impression, the Pulse room might seem a bit messy. In addition to printed plans there are post-its, colored magnets and handwritten documents.
If you spend the morning in the Pulse room you’ll notice people gathering by the Pulse boards every so often for short Pulse meetings.
During these short meetings they discuss what has been completed, what work is currently in progress and what needs to be done next. At the same time they update their board.
The participants use the post-its during the meeting. By moving them between different headlines they can show which tasks need to be done, are being worked on and are completed. The groups work together well and are alert. Everyone participates in the discussions and helps update the information on the board. After a couple of minutes they leave. Some people return for other meetings but no one participates in all of the meetings.
If you were to return on Friday morning you would also see Pulse meetings, but they would be of a different kind. Now it’s the management of the organization and the project managers that take center stage.
During several subsequent Pulse meetings they deal with the serious problems that have been encountered within the projects, allocate resource for the upcoming week and discuss strategic issues. Pulse boards are used also during these meetings and are kept updated throughout the meetings. The meetings are short and information is kept flowing between the meetings through the participants and the use of post-its.
It becomes clear that the Pulse room is a R&D command centre where the business can coordinate actions and decisions are made to keep the company running. The information on the whiteboards also helps the participants interact.
The Pulse boards create transparency so that everyone can see how the other teams are doing as well as the status of the business as a whole. The Pulse boards also demonstrate the impressive number of projects which are completed every year.
Can you just by putting up some whiteboards, complete projects at a faster pace and increase the pulse of the organization? No, there are some ingredients in Pulse that are not visible from the outside.
Projects and assignments are started in order to realize a strategy. Exploring which projects to start in order to meet long-term and short-term business goals is an ongoing process performed by a group of commercial and technical product managers. They conduct daily Pulse meetings to coordinate and facilitate their work. Their task is to define the effects of the results that the projects are supposed to deliver and by doing so determine the direction of the product development
All groups are self-organized. This means that they are expected to act within their own mandate. The scope of a project is defined as project goals that have been agreed in common. The project’s overall plan is developed by the project team, with the people that will be doing the actual work.
When people interact more, then more obstacles and problems are discovered. A majority of these issues can be taken care of by the teams themselves during their Pulse meetings. However, some problems are outside the scope of the projects and need to be escalated at the weekly coordinating Pulse meetings.
The pace of the projects depends on the decision making capacity, that problems outside the project’s mandates are handled quickly by the management teams. It’s here that the coordinating weekly Friday Pulse meetings play a vital role.
Producing results is more important than having a lot of work going on. If you start too many projects and small assignments at the same time then work will slow down, which will decrease output and increase lead times. It’s important to know how many projects and assignments the business can run in parallel.