Food for Agile Thought #434: Product Management Theater, Fighting Unemployment, The Strategy Stack, From Conflict to Negotiation

TL; DR: Product Management Theater — Food for Agile Thought #434

Welcome to the 434th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 42,302 peers. This week, Marty Cagan, in discussion with Lenny Rachitsky, critiques “product management theater” and the pandemic-induced over-hiring of PMs, offering solutions in his book, “Transformed.” Johanna Rothman advises unemployed agilists on transitioning to impactful roles, while Kurt Bittner and Pierre Pureur advocate combining Agile and Lean in software architecture for sustainability. Also, Fred Wynyk suggests using the Reverse Conway Maneuver to align organizational structures with software architecture goals for innovation, and we delve into Sprint anti-patterns.

Then, Roman Pichler introduces the Strategy Stack, a framework designed to align and clarify business and product strategies for better strategic execution. Itamar Gilad challenges the stereotypes limiting product manager roles, promoting the concept of a ‘Full-Stack PM’ who leads with a blend of strategy and user-centric innovation. At the same time, David Pereira critiques the growing popularity of Product Ops, advocating for role simplification over expansion to tackle fundamental issues. Moreover, Roger Martin discusses how AI impacts strategic thinking, suggesting that while generative AI can streamline the progression from mystery to algorithm, it risks oversimplifying complex heuristics.

Lastly, Derek Jones delves into the intricacies of software effort estimation in 2024, highlighting the role of individual risk profiles. Tanmay Vora shares William Ury’s methods for turning workplace conflicts into constructive negotiations, and Barry Overeem presents ten Retrospective formats based on the Agile Team Effectiveness Model, designed to enhance team improvement processes with Liberating Structures. Finally, Morgan Housel discusses the drawbacks of high intelligence, such as overconfidence and resistance to simpler solutions, challenging the notion that more intelligence directly correlates with better outcomes.

Food for Agile Thought #434: Product Management Theater, Fighting Unemployment, The Strategy Stack, From Conflict to Negotiation — Age-of-Product.com

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🏆 The Tip of the Week: Product Management Theater

Lenny Rachitsky and Marty Cagan: Product management theater: Marty Cagan

In this podcast with Lenny Rachitsky, Marty Cagan discusses “product management theater” and the need for PMs with fundamental value creation and business alignment skills. He critiques the over-hiring of ineffective PMs during the pandemic and advocates for empowered teams. His new book, “Transformed,” provides strategies for successful product organizations and emphasizes discerning product management advice and the right timing for hiring PMs in startups.

🍋 Lemon of the Week

Shane Drumm: Agile Project Management Guide (Skills & Methodologies)

This Agile Project Management guide whimsically simplifies Agile’s essence, presenting it as a magic potion for project woes. It lightly tiptoes around practices like Scrum and Kanban, painting an idealistic picture that might leave experts bemused. The narrative implies Agile is a universal solution, possibly simplifying the complexity of Agile practices in a manner that might have purists raising an eyebrow at its optimistic naivety.

➿ Agile & Scrum

Johanna Rothman: Unemployed Agilists: How to Move from a Staff Role to a Line Job, Part 2

Johanna Rothman discusses how unemployed agilists can pivot from perceived staff roles to valuable line jobs, emphasizing the importance of demonstrating tangible value and reevaluating technical skills to contribute directly to product development and revenue.

Kurt Bittner and Pierre Pureur (via InfoQ): Agile Architecture, Lean Architecture, or Both?

Kurt Bittner and Pierre Pureur discuss the distinct benefits of Agile and Lean practices in software architecture. They emphasize Agile’s empirical approach for MVPs and MVAs and Lean’s efficiency in well-defined environments, advocating for a balanced application of both to achieve effective and sustainable software development.

Fred Wynyk (via Medium): Conway’s Law in Team Topologies: Did you really get it?

Fred Wynyk explores Conway’s Law’s impact on software architecture, advocating the Reverse Conway Maneuver to align organizational structures with desired software designs for innovation and effective team collaboration.

🎓 🖥 🇬🇧 Advanced Professional Scrum Master Training w/ PSM II Certificate — April 23-24, 2024

Discover Scrum’s four success principles in this official Scrum.org class for Advanced Scrum Masters, including the industry-acknowledged PSM II 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.

Advanced Professional Scrum Master Training w/ PSM II Certificate — April 23-24, 2024 — Berlin-Product-People.com

Learn more: 🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Advanced Professional Scrum Master Training w/ PSM II Certificate — April 23-24, 2024.

Customer Voice: “Since about 12 people have already asked me these last 2 days: Yes, taking one of Stefan Wolpers’ classes is a mind-blowing experience. He’s actually the most adroit facilitator I’ve met after Guy Kawasaki & Roland Busch. It all flows like a silk ribbon in a soft spring breeze but with a strong authenticity that prevents the thing from feeling all Del Monte Canned Corporate Facilitation(tm). It may be due to his seemingly effortless mastery of the Liberating Structures. He doesn’t “teach to the test,” yet when you take the open practice assessments, you somehow score 95+ the first time. I dunno, it’s magic or Mozart, you pick.” (Source.)

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🎯 Product

Roman Pichler: The Strategy Stack: Connecting Business, Product, and Technology Strategy

Roman Pichler introduces the Strategy Stack, a framework aligning business, portfolio, product, and technology strategies to enhance strategic decisions and clarify ownership, aiming to streamline strategic alignment and execution.

Itamar Gilad: 6 Product Manager Stereotypes To Avoid

Itamar Gilad warns against six stereotypes restricting product manager roles, advocating for the ‘Full-Stack PM’ who combines leadership, strategy, and user focus to maximize impact and innovation.

David Pereira: Product Ops: Necessary or Not?

David Pereira argues against the rising trend of Product Ops, suggesting that simplifying existing roles might be more beneficial than adding new ones, as it addresses the root issues more effectively than band-aid solutions.

Roger Martin (via Medium): Strategy & Artificial Intelligence

Roger Martin explores the intersection of strategy and AI, arguing that generative AI accelerates knowledge through the “Knowledge Funnel” from mystery to heuristic to algorithm, democratizing information but averaging out heuristics.

📯 Sprint Anti-Patterns

Welcome to Sprint anti-patterns! This article covers the three Scrum accountabilities (formerly roles) and addresses interferences of stakeholders and IT/line management with this crucial Scrum event. Moreover, I added some food for thought. For example, could a month-long Sprint be too short for accomplishing something meaningful? And if so, what are the consequences?

Sprint Anti-Patterns Holding Back Scrum Teams — Age-of-Product.com

Read more: Sprint Anti-Patterns.

🛠 Concepts, Tools & Measuring

Derek Jones — The Shape of Code: What is known about software effort estimation in 2024

Derek Jones highlights the ongoing challenges and insights in software effort estimation as of 2024, noting the persistent use of round numbers, the tendency to underestimate or overestimate based on task length, and the stable accuracy of developer estimates despite experience. The findings underscore the complexity of estimation and the influence of individual risk profiles on accuracy.

Tanmay Vora: How to Turn Conflict Into a Constructive Negotiation

Tanmay Vora highlights William Ury’s strategies for transforming workplace conflicts into constructive negotiations, emphasizing the importance of calmness, perspective, understanding needs, and involving broader community support.

Barry Overeem (via The Liberators): 10 Retrospective Formats Based On The Agile Team Effectiveness Model

Barry Overeem introduces ten Retrospective formats based on the Agile Team Effectiveness Model, using Liberating Structures to help teams identify improvements and familiarize themselves with scientific insights on team effectiveness.

🎶 Encore

Morgan Housel (via Collaborative Fund): The Dumber Side of Smart People

Morgan Housel explores the paradox of high intelligence, illustrating how being too smart can lead to overconfidence, closed-mindedness, and difficulty adapting, often obscuring simpler, more effective solutions.


📅 Scrum Training & Event Schedule

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Date Class and Language City Price
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 April 23-24, 2024 GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Master (Advanced) Training (PSM II; English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1,299 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 May 7, 2024 GUARANTEED: Hands-on Agile #61: Toyota Kata Coaching f. Agile Teams & Transformations—Fortune Buchholtz (English) Live Virtual Meetup FREE
🖥 💯 🇩🇪 May 14-15, 2024 GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Product Owner Training (PSPO I; German; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1,299 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇬🇧 May 28-29, 2024 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
🖥 🇩🇪 July 9-10, 2024 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.

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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.

📺 Join 5,000-plus Agile Peers on Youtube

Now available on the Age-of-Product Youtube channel to improve learning, for example, about Product Management Theater:

Download the Remote Agile Guide for Free — Age-of-Product.com

✋ Do Not Miss Out and Learn About Product Management Theater — Join the 19,000-plus Strong ‘Hands-on Agile’ Slack Community

I invite you to join the “Hands-on Agile” Slack Community and enjoy the benefits of a fast-growing, vibrant community of agile practitioners from around the world.

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Help your team to learn to identify the Right Product Idea by pointing them to the free Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide:

Download the free Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide by PST Stefan Wolpers — Product Management Theater — Age-of-Product.com

🗞️ Last Week’s Food for Agile Thought Edition

Read more: Food for Agile Thought #433: The Right Product Idea, Accountability & Safety, Mitigating Product Risk, Self-Management Transition.

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