TL; DR: Empowered Product Teams? — Food for Agile Thought #364
Welcome to the 364th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 36,083 peers. This week, we share the real-life case of an organization embracing Marty Cagan’s ‘empowered product teams (EPT)’ model entirely—with underwhelming results. Moreover, we ask why the concept of “Done” seems to be constantly misunderstood in organizations while we explore why engineering speed drops over time and what you can do about it. Additionally, we delve into an “understanding of management (managing), self-managing, and the manager role.”
Then, we consider that many transformations fail because they lack a focus on product leadership and cover the challenges of managing a product in its mature state, from figuring out whether your product has achieved that stage to the four top-handling strategies. Also, Doc Norton analyzes the path from complexity to our need for certainty to experimentation based on observations, questions, hypotheses, methods, and results, and we illuminate the importance of Sprint Goals for a Scrum team’s success.
Finally, we listen to Allan Kelly proposing a seven-step, lightweight process to develop products, building on his previous work, and appreciate a new exercise from John Cutler to help teams to move from focusing on how they measure to what they measure. Lastly, Kellan Elliott-McCrea reflects on the annual planning ritual in engineering, from the futility of a bottom-up approach to constraints and dependencies.
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🏆 The Tip of the Week: Empowered Product Teams?
Empowered Product Teams…Really?:
Bob Galen shares the real-life case of an organization embracing Marty Cagan’s ‘empowered product teams (EPT)’ model entirely—with underwhelming results.
The point was that ALL of the efforts that the organization made to change the structure into EPT’s was not having any real positive impact.
Just saying you’re empowering the teams or creating EPT’s structurally doesn’t mean a darn thing if you don’t change the organizational culture and the leadership mindsets.
Words are cheap and easy. While behavioral and cultural changes, true changes, are much harder.
And the SVPG folks seem to be selling a concept at the team level but not doing a good job explaining, training, or coaching the requisite cultural changes.
➿ Agile & Scrum
Medium): Why is being “Done” in Agile teams so tragically misunderstood?(via
Todd Lankford is frustrated that the concept of “Done” is constantly—and probably deliberately—misunderstood in organizations.
InfoQ): Why is Everything so Slow? – Measuring and Optimising How Engineering Teams Deliver(via
Steve Janaway explores why engineering speed drops over time and what you can do about it.
Managing Self-Managing Teams:
Eb delves into an “understanding of management (managing), self-managing, and the manager role.”
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(via UX Collective): Shifting your product culture starts with product leaders
Afonso Franco believes that many transformations fail because they lack a focus on product leadership.
ProdPad): How to Manage the Maturity Stage of Product Life Cycle(via
Janna Bastow covers the challenges of managing a product in its mature state, from figuring out whether your product has achieved that stage to the four top-handling strategies.
Doc Norton analyzes the path from complexity to our need for certainty to experimentation based on observations, questions, hypotheses, methods, and results.
📯 Nine Sprint Goal Principles to Get Your Scrum Team Going
In Scrum, the Sprint Goal serves as the spotlight that provides transparency to the Sprint Backlog, as the flag that allows the team to rally, and the one thing that provides focus and cohesion.
No Scrum team has ever been able to reap the benefits of the framework to the fullest extent without making the Sprint Goal a cornerstone of its efforts. The following nine Sprint Goal principles point at critical issues any Scrum team needs to consider on its path to excellence.
🛠 Concepts, Tools & Measuring
Objective Driven Agile – 7 step lightweight method:
Allan Kelly proposes a seven-step, lightweight process to develop products, building on his previous work.
Outcome Super Prompt:
John Cutler shares an exercise to help teams to move from focusing on how they measure to what they measure.
How to plan?:
Kellan Elliott-McCrea reflects on the annual planning ritual in engineering, from the futility of a bottom-up approach to constraints and dependencies.
(via User Interviews): Continuous User interviews
User Interviews shares a guide to best flex your “research muscle and use fresh, relevant customer insights to drive your decisions.”
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📺 Join 4,000-plus Agile Peers on Youtube
Now available on the Age-of-Product Youtube channel to improve learning, for example, about UX & Engineering:
- 🆕 Hands-on Agile 44: Honey, I Shrunk the Backlog — Hands-on Agile 44 with Allan Kelly.
- 🆕 Hands-on Agile 43: Outcome-Based Product Planning with Jeff Gothelf.
- Hands-on Agile 42: Lean Roadmapping and OKRs with Janna Bastow.
- Hands-on Agile 38: The Product Owner with Roman Pichler.
- Hands-on Agile 35: Designing Powerful Questions to help you Coach & Create with Daniel Stillman.
- Hands-on Agile 34: Core Protocols for Psychological Safety with Richard Kasperowski.
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