When you work in a discovery-driven and evidence-guided manner, you are always learning, exploring, and testing. It’s iterative; things change. You’re always learning and evolving. This can make communication and maintaining alignment a challenge.
Slide decks with lots of arrows, circles, or nebulous shapes that we point to and say, ‘It’s not linear!’ or more generally, “It’s iterative!” work for overviews or executive decks, but they aren’t detailed enough for a project team. Tasks lists and project plans are too detailed and lack the context of the overall approach. The working team, the ones exploring a hypothesis or iterating towards a goal, need a framework for managing their work that gives them a process, a context, and the details they need.
The AFTER model (Assessment, Fact finding, Tests, Experiments, Release results), created by Itamar Gilad, organizes the progression from “I know nothing” to “I know a lot”:
How It Works
- The AFTER process is shown in yellow across the bottom. That remains the same throughout all projects. The aqua boxes above it change. At each step in the process, the team determines what needs to be done, and then does it. The steps in the process are tollgates. You only proceed if you’re successful in that stage.
- Start by establishing what you need to do to assess an idea. In this example, they reviewed their goals for alignment, created a business model, completed an ICE analysis (you can read more on the ICE analysis tool here), mapped assumptions, and reviewed things with stakeholders.
- If it is determined that the idea has passed the Assessment tollgate, the idea moves forward to Fact Finding.
- The team then determines what activities they need to understand more about it — they need to fact-find to determine if the idea is worth testing.
- When Fact-finding activities are complete, the team then has another tollgate. Did their findings show that the idea should continue or die, or does the idea need more work?
- You proceed forward through the rest of the AFTER process the same way, considering…