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About the VMOST Canvas

The VMOST Canvas is a strategy planning framework that rapidly allows stakeholders to gain a high level understanding of desired changes in their organisation. It presents these changes in the context of how they fit in with the strategic and long term vision of the business.

The framework links both the desired destination (the Vision) with the changes (the Tactics) to ensure that all investment focuses on value and taking the business forward in the correct direction.

The framework also highlights where additional changes may need to be identified in order to achieve some of the objectives.

Background

Developed in 2014 as a direct challenge to how to align agile portfolio management with annual budgeting, the VMOST Canvas is a practical evolution of the M.O.S.T. analysis technique used by Business Analysts.

VMOST Canvas or M.O.S.T.?

M.O.S.T. is an established consultancy framework used to perform an internal analysis of the organisation. Often used along side other analysis techniques such as PESTLE (for external environmental analysis) or SWOT (to bridge both internal and external environments), it helps organisations to set out their future strategy.

While M.O.S.T. documents strategies and tactics in the context of the overall mission statement, it does so for a specific point in time. This means that it can not address challenges such as how to deal with:

  • prioritisation of the tactics
  • planning and budgeting
  • local optimisation within the organisation, or
  • pivoting strategic delivery as a response to changes.

The VMOST Canvas was created to address these deficits by using techniques adopted from lean manufacturing and Agile software development.

The Problem

People tend to address the immediate problem for their area of concern, rather than think about the bigger picture and value. This results in a split focus and conflicting objectives across teams. The challenge is how we can marry these conflicting drivers together?

For example, if you were to ask an organisation "what would would it mean to improve?" you are likely to get diverging answers, such as:

The Company wants
  • A trusted brand
  • Satisfied customers
  • Quicker return on their investment
  • Faster, Cheaper, More predictable delivery
The Customer wants
  • More of the features they need
  • Always available, and on any device
  • Easy to use products
  • Rapidly evolving feature set (lots of updates)
The Engineering Team wants
  • Rapid delivery
  • Fewer failures
  • Rapid detection and resolution of faults
  • Collaboration across delivery

Focusing at a solution level can lead to a siloed approach to change, which could be detrimental to the wider organisation by limiting its ability to achieve its full potential.

Split objectives or siloed thinking leads to local optimisation where focus is often upon “how do we get better at what I do”, e.g.

  • How do we deliver software quicker?
  • How do we score more goals?
  • How do we sell more hamburgers?

There will always be someone doing those things better than you so we need to make sure what we are investing in changing is valuable to us... Getting better at something is irrelevant if we are not doing the right thing in the wider context of the organisation.

The Framework
VMOST - Vision

Vision

The vision is where the organisation sees themselves at a set point in the future (such as in 5 years time). Futurecasting is often used to describe the vision as "A place where..."

VMOST - Missions

Missions

If the vision is where we want to be, missions are the big blocks of change to get us there. Missions are action oriented and explain what will happen at a high level to change the status quo. Reaching a vision may require a number of missions to be completed.

VMOST - Objectives

Objectives

Objectives are check points to inform us if we have completed an individual mission or not. Usually they are in the form of KPIs which are set when the missions are identified. Objectives should follow the SMART criteria.

VMOST - Strategies

Strategies

Strategies are the areas of focus which the organisation believes will achieve the objectives.

VMOST - Tactics

Tactics

These are the actual change projects that will fulfil the strategies. Tactics fall into one of the following following types of change; 1) Product, 2) People, Process or Org, 3) Technology, 4) Marketing

Staged Process
VMOST - Brainstorming

Brainstorm

A skeleton outline of a number of linked Visions, Missions, Objectives, Strategies and Tactics

VMOST - Refinement

Understand

Mission, Objectives, Strategies, Tactics are refined and estimated at a high level

VMOST - Reflection

Prioritise

Budget constraints are applied to ensure the scope provides the optimal Return On Investment

VMOST - Reality

Plan

Tactics are planned against a timeframe with work aligned to teams to create Strategy pivot points

VMOST Outputs (The Boards)

The key outputs of the VMOST sessions are two physical boards, the Mission Board and the Mission Planner. These boards generate conversations and act as an incubator for new ideas during product and change delivery. The also ensure that investment is being made in the right thing at the right time.

Mission Board
Near Far Further Plan
Mission Planner

Mission Board

VMOST Canvas Mission Board Strategy Plan