Food for Agile Thought #425: Change Agent Tips, Product & Engineering Mindset, Utilization Fetish, Is Diversity Beneficial?

TL; DR: Change Agent Tips — Food for Agile Thought #425

Welcome to the 425th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 49,156 peers. This week, John Cutler presents 20 change agent tips. Additionally, in two academic studies, Kristin Geffers, Karen Eilers, Sarah Oeste-Reiß, and Ulrich Bretschneider explore Agile Leadership’s key roles, while Christiaan Verwijs and Daniel Russo examine diversity’s impact on software teams. Moreover, Charity Majors discusses the necessity of engineering managers in startups.

Then, Jason Cohen shares WP Engine’s eight-step journey to success, emphasizing fit and strategic, retention-focused development, and Lenny Rachitsky interviews Will Larson on systems thinking and productivity in product and engineering. Also, Petra Wille explores impactful product culture and leadership, and Maarten Dalmijn introduces ‘humble planning’ as essential in Agile practices for creating valuable products, discussing friction and intent-based leadership.

Lastly, J. Meadows critiques the belief in maximum staff utilization in software organizations, showing its negative impact on productivity and innovation. Adam Thornhill explains Brooks’ Law, where adding staff to delayed projects increases delays, and Kent Beck discusses the complexities of measuring engineering productivity and suggests a balanced approach. Finally, Dave Hora explores the changing role of research in organizations, stressing the importance of understanding current states for effective product integration.

Food for Agile Thought #425: Change Agent Tips, Product & Engineering Mindset, Utilization Fetish, Is Diversity Beneficial? – Age-of-Product.com

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🏆 The Tip of the Week

John Cutler: 20 tips for self-described change agents

John Cutler offers 20 insightful tips for change agents, focusing on self-awareness, patience, learning, and relationship-building to foster meaningful and sustainable change.

🍋 Lemon of the Week

Tamás Polgár (via Medium): Agile has failed. Officially

This week’s Lemon is a classic rant, where the practice is dismissed as a colossal failure, nostalgically yearning for the ‘good old’ project management days of the 1990s. It’s a prime example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, mixed with a heavy dose of nostalgia and a sprinkle of sarcasm.

➿ Agile & Scrum

(via ResearchGate): Leading Teams in Today's Dynamic Organizations: The Core Characteristics of Agile Leadership

Geffers, Eilers, Oeste-Reiß, and Bretschneider identify Agile Leadership as critical to agile transformations, outlining its five perspectives and emphasizing its role in fostering organizational adaptability and success.

Christiaan Verwijs: The Double-Edged Sword of Diversity: How Diversity, Conflict, and Psychological Safety Impact Software Teams

Christiaan Verwijs and Daniel Russo explore the impacts of diversity on software teams, finding age and gender diversity influence effectiveness and conflict moderated by psychological safety.

Charity Majors: Questionable Advice: ‘My boss says we don’t need any engineering managers. Is he right?’

Charity Majors debates the necessity of engineering managers in startups, arguing their importance in organizational structure, information management, and team coordination.

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Discover the Product Owner success principles in this engaging Product Backlog Management cohort class and accelerate your professional growth and career perspective with tried & tested, hands-on practices:

  • Excel at delivering value regularly — your #1 career success factor.
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  • Gain actionable insights, learn supportive tools, and practice everything in a safe community of like-minded peers.
  • Learn to say no and build trust and rapport with stakeholders while focusing on creating value.
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The class will be offered in English.

Enjoy the benefits of an immersive cohort class with like-minded agile peers on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, January 23, 2024, from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm o’clock CET.
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  • Tuesday, February 20, 2024, from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm o’clock CET.
Product Backlog Management Cohort Class of Jan 23 to Feb 20, 2024, with Stefan Wolpers — Berlin-Product-People.com

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🎯 Product

Jason Cohen (via Jason Cohen): The roadmap to Product/Market Fit

Jason Cohen outlines an eight-step process leading WP Engine to unicorn status, emphasizing personal and market fit, customer interaction, and strategic, retention-focused development.

Lenny Rachitsky and Will Larson: 🎙 The Engineering Mindset

Lenny Rachitsky's interview with Will Larson, CTO of Carta, covers systems thinking, managing product and engineering teams, measuring developer productivity, and developing company values.

(via Notion): Churn to Earn — products role in managing retention

The article discusses how B2B Product Management drives business growth by focusing on customer retention, addressing churn causes, and utilizing Gross and Net Revenue Retention strategies.

Petra Wille: What Makes a Great Product Culture? A Guide for Product Leaders

Petra Wille delves into the essence of a great product culture, focusing on leadership behavior and the integration of values throughout an organization beyond just the scope of a Community of Practice.

📺 Humble Planning — Maarten Dalmijn at the 57. Hands-on Agile Meetup

In this fascinating talk, Maarten introduced the concept of humble planning and why it’s crucial for succeeding with an Agile way of working and building products of exceptional value. During his talk, he covered concepts like friction, the three gaps model of Bungay, intent, intent-based leadership, humble planning, sprint goals, the fog of beforehand, and the fog of speculation. It is a must-see for all agile practitioners!

Humble Planning: How To Make Your Plans Suck Less with Maarten Dalmijn at the 57. Hands-on Agile Meetup — Age-of-Product.com

📺 Watch the video now: Humble Planning — Maarten Dalmijn at the 57. Hands-on Agile Meetup.

🛠 Concepts, Tools & Measuring

(via Medium): Utilization Considered Harmful. Why It’s Costly Keeping Everyone Busy.

J. Meadows challenges the entrenched belief in software organizations that maximizing staff utilization is beneficial, highlighting the detrimental effects on productivity, quality, and innovation.

Adam Tornhill (via CodeScene): Brooks's Law

Adam Thornhill visualizes Brooks’ Law, demonstrating how adding more people to a late software project can paradoxically delay it further due to increased coordination and communication overhead.

Kent Beck: Productivity Measurement as a Tradeoff

Kent Beck highlights the tradeoffs in measuring engineering productivity, warns against data distortion from metrics, and advocates for a balance between measurement and direct executive engagement with teams.

🎶 Encore

Dave Hora: Where Research Is Working

Dave Hora discusses the evolving role of research in organizations, emphasizing the need to understand current states and trajectories for effective product and customer context integration.


📅 Scrum Training & Event Schedule

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🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Mar 5, 2024 GUARANTEED: Hands-on Agile #59: “Agile” Does Not Work for You? Tackling Fake Agility w/ Johanna Rothman (English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Meetup FREE
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🖥 💯 🇬🇧 April 2-30, 2024 GUARANTEED: Product Backlog Management Cohort Class (English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €499 incl. 19% VAT
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🖥 🇩🇪 April 10-11, 2024 Professional Scrum Product Owner Training (PSPO I; German; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1,189 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇬🇧 April 23-24, 2024 Professional Scrum Master (Advanced) Training (PSM II; English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1,189 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇬🇧 May 7, 2024 Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Training (PSFS; English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €749 incl. 19% VAT

See all upcoming classes here.

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Change Agent Tips: Join the Hands-on Agile Slack Group

If you like to join all you have to do now is provide your credentials via this Google form, and I will sign you up. By the way, it’s free.

Help your team to learn about Change Agent Tips by pointing them to the free Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide:

Download the free Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide by PST Stefan Wolpers — Change Agent Tips — Age-of-Product.com

🗞️ Last Week’s Food for Agile Thought Edition

Read more: Food for Agile Thought #424: Reimagining Agile, Product in 2024, Dual Track Agile Lessons, Bets & Roadmapping.

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