Food for Agile Thought #428: Why Agile Fails, Product Management Theater, Decision Velocity, Deadlines & Trust

TL; DR: Why Agile Fails — Food for Agile Thought #428

Welcome to the 428th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 42,147 peers. This week, Adam Yuret delves into why Agile fails, analyzing how traditional power structures resist Agile’s transparency and autonomy. Ant Murphy emphasizes the importance of decision velocity for innovation and adaptability, and Derek Jones discusses the shift from Waterfall to Agile, highlighting the need for adaptability in management. Wes Kao offers strategies for effectively discussing deadlines, focusing on intellectual honesty and trust. Lastly, John Cutler advises cautiously sharing complex topics to avoid workplace tension and advocates for a Trojan Horse approach to implementing change. Also, we delve into Agile Laws: From Conway to Goodhart to Parkinson to Occam’s Razor.

Then, Marty Cagan highlights the critical need for Product Owners and Managers to move beyond mere “product management theater,” emphasizing genuine contributions. Itamar Gilad advocates for evidence-guided decision-making, cautioning against the automatic acceptance of customer feedback, and Daria Beliakova examines the product management trends of 2024, including hyper-personalization and the challenge of subscription fatigue. Moreover, Lenny Rachitsky presents insights from Geoffrey Moore on navigating the market’s chasm from early adopters to mainstream success, detailing strategic go-to-market playbooks for disruptive technologies.

Lastly, Matt O’Connell delves into Opportunity Solution Tree (OST) patterns to improve team collaboration and problem-solving without specialized tools. Willem-Jan Ageling critiques organizational silos, advocating for trust and cooperation to achieve unified success, and Nick Brown discusses advancing beyond traditional predictability measures in agile teams with Process Behavior Charts at ASOS Tech, offering a more objective assessment of team performance. Finally, Steven Sinofsky shares a personal narrative on how the launch of the Apple Macintosh in 1984 revolutionized his approach to computing, emphasizing its ease of use and transformative impact.

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🏆 The Tip of the Week: Why Agile Fails

Adam Yuret: Why Agile doesn't work.

Adam Yuret discusses Agile’s challenges within traditional power structures, highlighting that executive resistance to transparency, autonomy, and strategic clarity often undermines its effectiveness in enterprise settings.

🍋 Lemon of the Week

We do not have a lemon this week.

➿ Agile & Scrum

Ant Murphy: Decision Velocity & Drag

Ant Murphy highlights the critical impact of decision velocity on a company’s ability to innovate and adapt, contrasting fast-moving organizations with those hampered by decision drag and emphasizing the importance of making swift, high-quality decisions to maintain competitive advantage.

Derek Jones — The Shape of Code: Agile and Waterfall as community norms: ‘No manager is going to support switching to a development approach that makes them redundant.’

Derek Jones explores the transition from Waterfall to Agile practices, emphasizing how Agile’s focus on rapidly evolving requirements challenges traditional management structures and power dynamics within organizations.

Wes Kao: How to talk about deadlines at work

Wes Kao explores the awkwardness and strategies for discussing deadlines in the workplace, emphasizing the importance of intellectual honesty, the role of trust, and practical frameworks for direct reports and managers to communicate more effectively and compassionately about project timelines.

John Cutler: Important Reader PSA

John Cutler discusses the delicate balance of sharing complex organizational topics from his newsletter, advising caution to avoid inadvertently causing workplace tension, and suggests a Trojan Horse approach for introducing change.

🎓 🖥 🇬🇧 Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Class w/ PSFS Certificate — February 15, 2024

The Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills (PSFS) training by Berlin Product People is a one-day official Scrum.org 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 live-virtual immersive class with like-minded agile peers from 09:00 – 17:30 o’clock CET.

Learn more: 🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Class w/ PSFS Certificate — February 15, 2024.

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🎯 Product

Marty Cagan (via Silicon Valley Product Group): Product Management Theater

Marty Cagan warns Product Owners and Product Managers of an impending reckoning as companies recognize the limitations of these roles, emphasizing the need for genuine contribution over “product management theater” and the superficiality of certain training and certifications.

Itamar Gilad: Your Customers Are Not Always Right

Itamar Gilad explains that while customer feedback is crucial, not all requests should be acted upon without validation, challenging the notion that customers are always right with a call for evidence-guided decision-making in product management.

Daria Beliakova (via Hackernoon): How to Build Products People Love in 2024 and Beyond

Daria Beliakova outlines key product management trends in 2024, focusing on hyper-personalization, subscription fatigue, market saturation, cybersecurity, and balancing user needs with investor demands for building beloved products.

Lenny Rachitsky and Geoffrey Moore: 🎙 Geoffrey Moore on finding your beachhead, crossing the chasm, and dominating a market

Lenny Rachitsky features Geoffrey Moore discussing strategies for marketing disruptive technologies, emphasizing the critical transition from early adopters to mainstream customers, and outlining effective go-to-market playbooks for each stage of market adoption.

📯 Agile Laws: From Conway to Goodhart to Parkinson to Occam’s Razor

On many occasions, working with agile teams has amplified existing organizational, technical, and cultural challenges in many organizations. Starting to change always requires the acceptance that there is a problem that needs attention. The following article addresses some of the most prevailing impediments to achieving agility by revisiting several agile laws that are particularly relevant to any team’s effectiveness in solving customer problems.

Read the article now: Agile Laws: From Conway to Goodhart to Parkinson to Occam’s Razor.

🛠 Concepts, Tools & Measuring

(via VistalyApp): Opportunity Solution Tree (OST) Patterns

Matt O’Connell shares a collection of Opportunity Solution Tree (OST) patterns observed in teams’ workflows, offering strategies for segmenting user needs, managing backlogs, and enhancing team collaboration without requiring specific tools.

Willem-Jan Ageling: Trust and collaboration go a long way

Willem-Jan Ageling criticizes organizational silos, advocating for collaboration and trust to replace isolated working environments, emphasizing that true success comes from unified objectives and shared efforts across the organization.

Nick Brown (via Medium): Objectively measuring ‘predictability’

Nick Brown explores measuring predictability in agile teams beyond traditional “say-do” ratios, using Process Behavior Charts to objectively assess variation and stability in ASOS Tech’s delivery processes.

🎶 Encore

Steven Sinofsky: Hello. Happy Anniversary Macintosh!

Steven Sinofsky recalls the profound impact the Apple Macintosh’s launch in 1984 had on his college years and computing path, highlighting its revolutionary ease of use and empowering technology.

📅 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
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 May 28-29, 2024 GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Master (Advanced) Training (PSM II; English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1,189 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 June 6, 2024 GUARANTEED: Hands-on Agile #62: From Backlog Manager to Product Manager: From Outputs to Outcomes w/ David Pereira (English) Live Virtual Meetup FREE
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 June 13-July 11, 2024 GUARANTEED: Advanced Product Backlog Management Cohort Class (PBM; English; Live Virtual Cohort) Live Virtual Cohort €399 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 June 25, 2024 GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Training (PSFS; English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €749 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 July 7, 2024 GUARANTEED: Hands-on Agile #63: The Anti-Patterns Canvas — A Tool Session (1) with Stefan Wolpers (English) Live Virtual Meetup FREE
🖥 💯 🇩🇪 July 9-10, 2024 GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Product Owner Training (PSPO I; German; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1,299 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇩🇪 August 27-28, 2024 Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM I; German; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1,189 incl. 19% VAT

See all upcoming classes here.

You can book your seat for the training directly by following the corresponding links to the ticket shop. If the procurement process of your organization requires a different purchasing process, please contact Berlin Product People GmbH directly.

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🗞️ Last Week’s Food for Agile Thought Edition

Read more: Food for Agile Thought #427: Continuous Product Improvement, Changing Teams, Use Cases & User Stories, The Tech Gamble of Over-Engineering.

Categories: News
Stefan Wolpers: Stefan, based in Berlin, Germany, has worked for 18-plus years as a Product Manager, Product Owner, agile coach, and Scrum Master. He is a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) with Scrum.org and the author of Pearson’s “Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide.” He has developed B2C as well as B2B software, for startups as well as corporations, including a former Google subsidiary. Stefan curates the ‘Food for Agile Thought’ newsletter and organizes the Agile Camp Berlin, a Barcamp for coaches and other agile practitioners.
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