TL; DR: Agile Forecasting, Winning Product Strategies — Food for Agile Thought #354
Welcome to the 354th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,689 peers. This week, we analyze agile forecasting challenges in epic breadth, from avoiding story points to rolling wave forecasts. Also, we illustrate and quantify the impact of unfinished work to help you convince your team to ‘stop starting and start finishing,’ and we delve into decision-making practices as a group, from reversible to expensive or irreversible decisions.
Then, we listen to Lenny Rachitsky interviewing Melissa Perri on what to do when your strategy is not working: what are the signs, and how can you change direction? Moreover, we point out that ‘most strategies are a collection of assumptions,’ from certainty levels to competitor behavior. Also, we enjoy ten video clips expressing precisely that product/market-fit feeling Marc Andreessen described years ago.
Finally, we share strategies to identify and work through design and engineering conflicts and a more innovative framework to apply the ‘rocks, pebbles, and sand’ lesson. Lastly, McKinsey claims to have identified ‘four types of behavior that account for 89 percent of leadership effectiveness.’ This brings us to Deloitte Insights, exploring whether you can measure a ‘hidden—yet increasingly critical—key performance indicator:’ trust.
TL; DR: Sales vs. Product, Minimum Viable Transformation — Food for Agile Thought #353
Welcome to the 353rd edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,651 peers. This week, we delve into Sales vs. Product, analyzing their conflicting worldviews. Additionally, we learn about the pre-requisites of cultural change, for example, ensuring that at least a quarter of your community supports the endeavor. Also, we detail why long-term software development plans do not work and critique an acclaimed book on DevOps, metrics, and effectiveness in software development.
Then, we reflect on Lean Startup’s “pivot or persevere” decision: scale, kill, pivot, or persevere, and we show practical ways to reduce our product’s risk of failure, from testing assumptions to data-informed decision-making. Moreover, we share eleven lessons on enabling product management with distributed teams, from the need to write more to embrace tools beyond Zoom and Google Docs.
Finally, we enjoy Avion’s bookmark-worthy guide on user story mapping and detail how product analytics can reduce churn if you learn to identify customers that share ‘specific characteristics and usage patterns.’ Lastly, Russ Roberts interviews the economist — and former chief economist of Uber and Lyft — John List on what determines scalability and ‘good ideas.’
TL; DR: Team Topologies, CEOs and Product Leaders — Food for Agile Thought #352
Welcome to the 352nd edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,602 peers. This week, we revisit Team Topologies, Conway’s Law, and how you might influence an organization’s structure as a lone product manager. We also explore the essence of behavioral change and apply lessons from Tim Hartford’s Cautionary Tale “The South Pole Race: David and Goliath on Ice” to your failed agile transformation. Moreover, we try to understand what ‘dream teams’ or ‘tiger teams’ supposedly are.
Then, we delve into the delicate relationship between the CEO and the product leader of an organization, stressing the importance of building candor, trust, and communicating well. Also, we listen to Casey Winters sharing career advice for aspiring product managers, from communicating upward to de-risking meetings. Finally, John Cutler continues his quest to understand product strategy; this time is all about why it changes, from recency bias to sporadic research.
Finally, we follow Jake Burghardt delving into the usefulness of research repositories as internal learning tools, including practical suggestions on how to employ them, and we enjoy a new game to ‘illustrate essential aspects for collaboration and workflow improvements.’ Lastly, HBR points to a critical element of why ‘organizational transformations are prone to failure.’
TL; DR: Agile and Deadlines, Lack of Strategy — Food for Agile Thought #351
Welcome to the 351st edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,559 peers. This week, we delve into Agile and deadlines, debunking the myth of many managers that being agile only works in environments without them. Moreover, James Shore and Aino Vonge Corry dissect a core event to help teams reflect and improve. Also, we learn how Safesite went from two-week sprints to an approach that helped them understand ‘our customers better and [validate] what should be built next.’
Then, we reflect on disincentives to thinking strategically, starting with system design, and we describe Paypal’s innovation system that involves a ‘blockchain-based token system that lets employees place wagers on ideas.’ Also, we list suggestions to free yourself from administrative tasks for the benefit of figuring out what is worth building.
Finally, we analyze why most managers are good at managing but lack a critical skill of the 21st century, and we define lean metrics based on insights from the leading organization in everything ‘Lean’—Toyota. Lastly, we delve into the lessons learned from mastering mobbing together in a live stream.
TL; DR: Product Discovery Tool, Vanity Metrics — Food for Agile Thought #350
Welcome to the 350th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,507 peers. This week, we introduce the ‘Confidence Meter,’ a product discovery tool. Plus, we ask a seemingly simple question: how do we define team longevity, and is it indeed a helpful approach? Moreover, we enjoy an introductory guide to understanding and using Product Goals to your team’s advantage and point at waste at all levels in our software shops.
Then, we share ‘empirical evidence for the [usefulness of the] Double-Diamond model’ and applaud Jason Yip, who sketched use cases of user stories, from 😞 to 🤔 to 😀 practices. And in case you plan your next career step: Roman Pichler sheds light on the responsibilities of a head of product. Moreover, Janna Bastow talks about being lean while creating and maintaining your roadmap and how objectives and key results (OKR) may help meet that challenge.
Finally, we share John Cutler’s ultimate guide to fighting vanity metrics, from understanding their appeal to identifying and overcoming them. And while we are at it: Agile Uprising provides a guide to helpful metrics in various environments, from flow efficiency to work item age to time to market.
TL; DR: Engineering Culture, Little Scrum Islands — Food for Agile Thought #349
Welcome to the 349th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,462 peers. This week, we share the impact of a 2014 change in engineering culture at Uber by ‘creating cross-functional program teams and introducing platform teams.’ Moreover, we reflect on why your little, happy Scrum island isn’t enough to achieve business agility, and we combine two powerful coaching tools for agile practitioners to learn from each other. Also, Adam Grant interviews Jenny Chatman on the effects of toxicity, mediocracy, bureaucracy, and anarchy.
Then, we detail how to address the leadership’s need for more predictability by ‘right-sizing’ work items to one- or two-day stories; we delve into the details of product-centric companies, and we listen to Lenny Rachitsky interviewing Teresa Torres on ‘automating continuous discovery, the opportunity solution tree framework, making a case for user research, [and] common interviewing mistakes.’
Finally, we refer to the many advantages of using our own products internally, pointing to examples from Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. Also, we explain how the ‘5 Whys’ practice works and its benefits, and we enjoy a hearty laugh when Yuri Malishenko applies the IKEA metaphor to Scrum.