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Good alignment is one of the key skills required of Product Managers today.
To improve the alignment process, XING’s team of Product Managers developed the Auftragsklärung, a framework for collaborative, bottom-up alignment. Check it out!
Once we realised the importance of good alignment, we looked for ways to support this process. During several iterations we developed the Auftragsklärung, a framework for collaborative, bottom-up alignment.
Auftragsklärung is usually applied by the product person driving the initiative. As such it works bottom-up and complements the typical top down directions we have at XING such as our vision, mission, annual goals.
Since the main objective of the Auftragsklärung is to bring everybody on the same page, we make it a collaborative effort involving stakeholders, affected peers and team members. We identified that a canvas format works best for triggering participants to externalise their thinking and make their assumptions transparent.
In the end it’s important to notice that the main value of the Auftragsklärung is in the dialogue it triggers and how it makes sure all involved think and talk openly, raising early concerns and sharing expected outcomes early on.
The initial version of the Auftragsklärung was rolled-out internally at XING with trainings for all product people and we also broadly shared it with product folks outside of XING on conferences, meetups and in blog posts.
Over time we realized that we wanted to improve some aspects of the framework, which is why we recently introduced a new, second version.
The main changes with V2:
Active emphasis of the user perspective. We introduced this because we observed that the discussions we had tended to become very company-centered and as such contradiced the strong user focus we strive for when building products. Now we explicitly put ourselves in the shoes of our users.
Supporting commentary. While we actively school our product people in using Auftragsklärung we happily noticed that the framework was also adopted by colleagues from other departments or by product teams from other companies. That’s great because we are happy to share! To give better guidance in such cases we added some additional “fine print” which will hopefully make it easier to make best use of Auftragsklärung.
Differentiated perspective on Outcome and Output. When aligning around expected outcomes and output we learned that it is valuable to look at it from different perspectives: What are our tangible expectations for the shortterm (ca next quarter) and what’s our long-term ambition and the path forward. This is now supported in the framework.
We invite you to try the Auftragsklärung yourself.
We firmly believe and know from conversations with other companies that the Auftragsklärung is not only helpful in larger product organizations like ours with over 50 product teams, but can also support the alignment process in other setups, such as startups. Whether you apply the framework “as is” or adapt it to your environment is up to you.
In any case we would appreciate your feedback or comment!