TL; DR: Agility: Timeless, Team Dynamics — Food for Agile Thought #357
Welcome to the 357th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,789 peers. This week, we celebrate the Agile 2022 keynote of Joshua Kerievsky, where he reflects on why “Agility isn’t a formula, a framework, nor a set of roles and rituals to follow” but a timeless way of thinking. Also, Linda Rising, Diana Larsen, and James Shore delve into the dynamics that make and break Agile teams, from the importance of trust to the Tuckman model. Moreover, we suggest six ways of encouraging feedback from team members, from creating psychological safety to leading by example, and we close with a rant about mission statements.
Then, we listen to Mary Cagan, sharing his learnings after more than 20 years at the forefront of product management, from Steve Jobs to building product teams to which trends to ignore. Additionally, we analyze the four most significant threats to building great products and how to deal with them, from difficult developers to executive bullies, and we tackle product roadmaps from a pragmatic angle.
Finally, we share a new game to “find a golden path to delivering maximum business value by benefiting from collaboration vs. getting stuck in dependencies” and a “primer on what you need to know to leverage VSM to chart your lean journey.” Lastly, inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s lecture on “the simple shapes of stories,” Ash Maurya shows that JTBD’s customer stories also have archetypical shapes.
TL; DR: Decision-Making 2.0, Diamond of Participation — Food for Agile Thought #356
Welcome to the 356th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,752 peers. This week, we will learn from psychologist Gary Klein how to improve decision-making, particularly as a team, from the benefits of pre-mortems and anonymous voting to the perils of consensus. Also, we detail Tesla’s approach to agility; we explain Sam Kaner et al.’s Diamond of Participation graphic for facilitators, and we encourage you to participate in the survey for the 16th State of Agile report.
Then, we delve into empathy as the superpower of successful product people, enabling the understanding of seemingly tricky stakeholders. Moreover, we suggest to stop “using ‘product market fit’ and instead focus on delivering value to your first ten customers,” and we applaud John Cutler for sharing the template & activity library for the North Star Framework. Following up on the interview with Gary Klein, we also suggest starting your product discovery journey with a pre-mortem: Imagine it is six months later and your product went south; what caused its failure?
Finally, we analyze commonalities and differences in product teams of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, only to return to a classic session from 2012: Marty Cagan shares lessons learned on building products that customers love.
TL; DR: Novelty Uncertainty — Food for Agile Thought #355
Welcome to the 355th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,721 peers. This week, we delve into dealing with novelty uncertainty by acquiring knowledge as we move forward in a process at the heart of all agile practices. Moreover, we analyze the mechanics of how innovation moves from the fringes to the core of an organization, and we explain Richard Feynman’s seven “tricks for evaluating information.” Also, we lay out the challenges and opportunities of distributed teams, from ‘management by talk around’ to tools and practices.
Then, we explore ways of “how to go from charts and numbers to a story that will move your stakeholders” and share the principles of how engineering and product collaborate at Intercom for the benefit of customers, for example, by involving the engineers from the start. Additionally, we explore the general relationship between engineering and product management and share lessons learned, for instance, earn respect first as a product manager before you become technical.
Finally, we thank IT Revolution Press for attempting to explain the practice of creating Wardley Maps. Noorisingh Saini leads us through calculating, interpreting, and improving the lifetime value of your SaaS customers, while Natalie Rothfels, Ely Lerner, and Behzod Sirjani bust customer churn myths, from its supposed unavoidability to wrong assumptions. Lastly, Greg Satell points to a typical disadvantage of large organizations regarding innovation: “it’s often just easier to fall in line than to engage in vigorous debate.”
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.’