TL; DR: Product Waste, Little’s Law & Forecasts — Food for Agile Thought #344
Welcome to the 344th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,342 peers. This week, we delve into the patterns of product waste resulting from an ‘organizational and conceptual gap’ between product and engineering teams on the one side and sales and marketing teams on the other side. Also, we outline how to support your teams emotionally in challenging times, and we visualize the mental model of developers as systems thinkers, from inner and outer loops to flow states to context switching. Moreover, we reflect on those who ‘dodge gatekeepers and dance around policies, doing whatever it takes to get the job done.’
Then, we provide insight into Stripe’s product strategy, resulting in a ‘microcosm of product-led, developer-centric growth.’ Moreover, we guide the reader from JTBD to user-centered design to the CCVC framework, and we listen to Chad McAllister interviewing Mike Mace on how to get customer insights quickly to counter demands from your resident HiPPO or a pushy sales team.
Also, we show how the application of Little’s Law can support your team’s forecast quality, and, finally, we address the widespread belief that Kanban is nothing more than some columns on a board and a handful of cards to push around, resulting in highly complex boards of little value.
TL; DR: Why Teams Estimate, the HiPPO Effect — Food for Agile Thought #343
Welcome to the 343rd edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,304 peers. This week, we point to good reasons why teams estimate: ‘credibility, deeper thinking, prioritization, and insight.’ Also, we explore six ways of avoiding the 💩 sandwich when providing critical feedback, and we watch a classic: Henrik Kniberg visualizes the cost and consequences of moving from single-piece flow to simultaneously working on multiple work items.
Then, we suggest dealing with resistance from stakeholders, such as the sales folks, who fear meeting their quotas, and we highlight some of the ‘dysfunctions around decision making and offer ways to overcome them.’ Moreover, we delve into the strange effects of the highest-paid person’s opinion, from manifestations to impact to suggestions on how to deal with them. (High impact release notes may be one helpful tactic; learn how to author them.)
Also, we enjoy Sachin Rekhi’s take on Jeff Bezos’ June 2004 instruction: ‘From now on, your presentation software is Microsoft Word, not PowerPoint. Get used to it.’ Finally, ‘Programmers are also human’ celebrates McBoston’s Josh Doe, formerly Agile Consulting, Inc.
TL; DR: Agile Laggards, Fireside Chat with Marty Cagan — Food for Agile Thought #342
Welcome to the 342nd edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,264 peers. This week, we point to Geoffrey Moore’s ‘Technology Adoption Life Cycle,’ and that ‘Agile’ has entered the laggards segment. We also delve into an essential team success factor — stakeholder trust — and reflect on ‘balancing long-lived teams with short term coordination and alignment.’
Then, we learn how to determine best whether an idea is worth pursuing and define six ‘first principles’ for product leaders to deal with team topology, from ownership to alignment to autonomy. Moreover, we follow Behzod Sirjani, who believes that NPS has been turned into a useless vanity metric while it has actual value for measuring ‘word-of-mouth loops.’
Also, we advocate not focusing on productivity but, for example, on value, quality, speed, and flexibility, as they may lead to higher productivity later on. Lastly, we enjoy a fireside chat with Marty Cagan, where he addresses empowerment, adopting a product-led mindset, and why project-oriented companies should consider becoming product-oriented.
TL; DR: Adopting Agility, Failure to Scale Ideas — Food for Agile Thought #341
Welcome to the 341st edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,206 peers. This week, we learn about adopting agility with a research initiative of Thinkers 50 and Capgemini Invent, and we delve into the difficulties of answering a typical question: ‘What are the pros and cons of Agile?’ Moreover, we analyze the challenges of collaboration after switching to product-based funding, pointing at Conway and Brooks, and end with observations on how the subtleties of an organization influence the effectiveness of internal and external agile coaches, respectively.
We then identify five causes why some products peter out when they grow, from false positives to biased representation to cost traps, and outline three tactics for stakeholder collaboration and inclusion. Additionally, we share Jason Cohen’s framework for Product Management that defines what ‘great’ concerning product managers means in practical terms. We also shed light on the nature of the Scrum team regarding its product capabilities, namely its lack of stakeholder inclusion.
Then, we listen to Jeff Gothelf regarding his advice on adopting the goal-setting OKR framework to measure success, and we learn how Pendo practices continuous discovery, from recruiting interviewees to designing and running experiments. Finally, we are closing this edition with Tim Ferriss interviewing Tony Fadell, covering “Steve Jobs on ‘Vacation,’ Product Design and Team Building, Good Assholes vs. Bad Assholes, Investing in Trends Before They Become Trends, The Hydrogen Economy, [and] The Future of Batteries.”
TL; DR: Portfolios of Bets, Progressive Organizations — Food for Agile Thought #340
Welcome to the 340th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,173 peers. This week, we list ten progressive organizations with structures rooted in practice, from Kyocera to VISA to Haier. Also, we present research results that unlocking the benefits of diversity requires that team members can ‘express their ideas, questions or concerns and not be embarrassed or ostracised.’ Moreover, we believe that Taylorism is a continuation of the Newtonian Mindset of linear causalities—with serious consequences for the way we work.
We then take a different view on product roadmaps as portfolios of bets and visualize the differences between an earlier-stage VC-backed startup and a later-stage company. Additionally, we discover ways to tame complexity in product development, dissect the abrupt demise of CNN+ and its lessons for pursuing product discovery and explore 20 typically Sprint Planning anti-patterns. Also, there is some career advice: Kristina Walcker-Mayer believes that product management is an excellent apprenticeship to becoming a CEO.
Lastly, we suggest playing a game to reduce your potential risk and avoid falling victim to the planning fallacy, and we appreciate a guide to help you set and achieve your goals based on Stoicism’s first principles of self-discipline, self-control, and endurance.
TL; DR: Product Management Anti-Patterns, Scrum-like Kanban — Food for Agile Thought #339
Welcome to the 339th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,114 peers. This week, we explore product management anti-patterns, from the hamster wheel to the ivory tower to the throne room, and we ask ourselves: What is a high-performing agile team? Also, we detail how to incorporate tactics and practices from Scrum into a Kanban system and suggest a massive list of statistics on ‘Agile’ and Scrum to support your initiatives with data.
We then point to two different processes that comprise product management: a) core product work, creating objective value, and b) growth work, optimizing how a product delivers value to customers. Moreover, we explain how startups may benefit from continuous discovery work, although most start with an idea, not a customer segment and a value proposition, and we describe a system of connecting strategy with operational doing, dubbed the ‘roadmap pipeline.’
Lastly, we show how value stream optimization helps to improve throughput and quality in the development process. We also point to Ray Dalio’s book ‘Principles,’ where Dalio communicates his idea of how to share your disagreement in a considerate and constructive manner. Finally, Eric Migicovsky published a post-mortem from 2017 on lessons learned from the demise of Pebble.