Food for Agile Thought #413: Firing Agile Coaches? Are All Feature Factories Bad? Why Didn’t They Say No? Dumb Decisions?

TL; DR: Firing Agile Coaches? — Food for Agile Thought #413

Welcome to the 413th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 49,263 peers. This week, Anthony Mersino reflects on firing agile coaches due to financial constraints and urges a focus on continuous improvement to prove value. David Rodenas discusses the misguided adoption of “Agile” due to a lack of understanding, and Marty Cagan emphasizes holistic organizational involvement in digital transformations. Joost Minnaar advocates for subtraction over addition in workplace transformation, promoting identifying and eliminating unnecessary tasks for more effective change.

Then, Sam Gimbel addresses the general disdain towards ‘feature factories,’ advocating for a more nuanced approach and customer-centric development. John Cutler delves into the tendency of teams to overcommit, attributing it to a culture of affirmative bias and advocating for realistic engagement in work commitments. Moreover, Kilian Butler narrates Papercup’s experience in machine learning product development, offering practical insights to help others navigate this challenging yet rewarding domain.

Lastly, Jimmy Janlén explores blending Scrum and Kanban for optimized workflows, providing a roadmap for an informed choice or fusion of these agile frameworks. Oscar Ibars discusses the art of saying ‘no’ in Product Management to maintain realistic project scopes. Paweł Huryn delves into Product-Led Growth strategies, emphasizing customer-centric approaches for product growth. Also, David Perell shares 50 insightful ideas focusing on critical thinking, human behavior understanding, and system optimization, introducing principles like Inversion, Doublespeak, and the Theory of Constraints.

Food for Agile Thought #413: Firing Agile Coaches? Are All Feature Factories Bad? Why Didn’t They Say No? Dumb Decisions? —

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🏆 The Tip of the Week: Firing Agile Coaches?

Anthony Mersino (via Vitality Chicago Inc.): Should We Fire All the Agile Coaches?

Anthony Mersino discusses the downsizing of agile coaching staff due to cost-cutting, Agile saturation, coaching quality, and scrutinized ROI. He urges coaches to focus on continuous improvement, mastery, and setting clear exit criteria to demonstrate value and avoid unexpected termination.

🍋 Lemon of the Week

(via Reddit): I'm really fed up with Scrum please enlighten me

This week’s Lemon’s author, a developer with eight years of agile experience, expresses frustrations over Scrum’s demanding meeting schedule, lack of time for unplanned work, and rigidity, ignoring the fact that someone sold them snake oil disguised as Scrum.

➿ Agile & Scrum

David Rodenas (via Medium): Smart People Take Dumb Decisions When Applying Agile

David Rodenas points out the irony of smart individuals making misguided decisions in adopting “Agile.“ By analyzing an influential article laden with poor practices masked as Agile requisites, he underscores the necessity of a genuine understanding and humble approach to harness Agile’s potential effectively.

Marty Cagan (via Silicon Valley Product Group): Transformation Fail

Marty Cagan delves into the common pitfalls of digital transformations. He underscores the crucial roles of holistic organizational involvement, competent product teams, and real-world, experienced guidance in navigating toward a fruitful outcome.

Joost Minnaar (via Corporate Rebels): Rethinking Workplace Transformation: The Art of Subtraction

Joost Minnaar highlights the importance of subtraction over addition in workplace transformation. Through exercises, he encourages people to identify what to stop doing, emphasizing that removal often leads to more effective organizational change than the common tendency of adding tasks or policies.

🎓 🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Class w/ PSFS Certificate — November 28, 2023

The Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills (PSFS) training by Berlin Product People is a guaranteed one-day official class for advanced Scrum practitioners and agile coaches, including the industry-acknowledged PSFS certification. This PSFS training class is in English.

Enjoy the benefits of a compact immersive class with like-minded agile peers from 09:00 – 17:30 o’clock CEST.

Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Class w/ PSFS Certificate — November 28, 2023 — PST Stefan Wolpers

Learn more: 🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Class w/ PSFS Certificate — November 28, 2023.

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🎯 Product

Sam Gimbel: When is a Feature Factory…not?

Sam Gimbel critiques the broad-brush derision of 'feature factories,' urging a nuanced understanding. He proposes reflective questions to differentiate mere output focus from genuine customer-centric development, thus aiding leaders in identifying and navigating the real issues.

John Cutler: Why Didn't They Say No?

John Cutler explores the complex dynamics leading teams to overcommit despite apparent unfeasibility. Through a myriad of scenarios, he unravels a culture of affirmative bias driven by fear, lack of experience, miscommunication, and the dire need for a more assertive, realistic engagement in work commitments.

(via Papercup): Building machine learning products: lessons from Papercup's product team –

Kilian Butler shares Papercup’s journey in developing a machine learning-centric product, emphasizing the uniqueness of such endeavors. Through practical insights, he hopes to guide others in navigating the exciting yet challenging realm of ML product development.

Jeffrey Bussgang (via Harvard Business Review): How Software Companies Can Avoid the Trap of Product-Led Growth

Jeffrey Bussgang and Oliver Jay discuss the pitfalls of Product-Led Growth (PLG) in software companies, highlighting the importance of early transition planning to an enterprise model, using MongoDB’s evolution as a case study for successful scalability beyond PLG.

📯 Minimum Viable Library (3) — Agile Leadership Edition

A new edition of the Minimum Viable Library on Agile Leadership is available! Explore a series of carefully curated collections of essential books, newsletters, podcasts, and tools to elevate your agile expertise.

Read on and learn how the recommendations for agile leaders cover a wide range of topics, from the importance of self-managing teams and trust-based environments to the crucial roles of accountability and resilience. While “servant leadership” as a term may be fading, its principles of empowerment and collaboration endure. Stories of transformation in traditional settings underscore the value of decentralized leadership and quick communication.

Minimum Viable Library (3) — Agile Leadership Edition —

Learn more: Minimum Viable Library (3) — Agile Leadership Edition.

🛠 Concepts, Tools & Measuring

Jimmy Janlén (via YouTube): Scrum and or Kanban, a pragmatic comparison

Jimmy Janlén explains Scrum and Kanban’s unique and common features, guiding teams in melding elements from both to craft an optimized workflow. By delving into their origins, core principles, and practical application scenarios, he lays out a roadmap for an informed, context-driven choice between, or a blend of, these agile frameworks.

Oscar Ibars (via Medium): The Art of the ‘Nope’ in Product Management

Oscar Ibars humorously navigates the crucial yet delicate art of saying ‘no’ in Product Management, ensuring a balance between nurturing ideas and maintaining realistic project scopes.

Pawel Huryn: Product-Led Growth 101 (1/2)

Paweł Huryn outlines Product-Led Growth (PLG) strategies emphasizing customer value, covering customer acquisition and activation, and underscoring the universal applicability of discussed methods for achieving product growth​.

🎶 Encore

David Perell: 50 Ideas That Changed My Life

David Perell shares 50 life-changing ideas, emphasizing critical thinking, understanding human behavior, and optimizing systems. He explores principles like Inversion, Doublespeak, Theory of Constraints, and others, aiming to provoke curiosity and enhance thinking processes​.

📅 Scrum Training & Event Schedule

You can secure your seat for Scrum training classes, workshops, and meetups directly by following the corresponding link in the table below:

Date Class and Language City Price
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 December 6, 2023 GUARANTEED: Hands-on Agile #57: Humble Planning: How To Make Your Plans Suck Less with Maarten Dalmijn (English; Live Virtual Meetup) Live Virtual Meetup FREE
🖥 💯 🇩🇪 December 11-12, 2023 GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM I; German; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1,299 incl. 19% VAT
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🖥 💯 🇬🇧 December 18-19, 2023 GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Master (Advanced) Training (PSM II; English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1,299 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Jan 23-Feb 20, 2024 GUARANTEED: Product Backlog Management Cohort Class (English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €499 incl. 19% VAT

See all upcoming classes here.

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Help your team to avoid firing Agile Coaches by pointing them to the free Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide:

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🗞️ Last Week’s Food for Agile Thought Edition

Read more: Food for Agile Thought #412: The Dark Age Has Returned, Product Management Axioms, Scrum Guide 202(X), Storytelling as a PM.

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