Food for Agile Thought #435: Overcoming the Feature Factory, Product Model First Principles, Output vs Outcome, Overproduction in Software

TL; DR: Overcoming the Feature Factory — Food for Agile Thought #435

Welcome to the 435th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 42,329 peers. This week, John Cutler presents strategies for product managers or overcoming the feature factory by refining skills through customer interaction and collaboration. Elizabeth Ayer discusses the dangers of software overproduction and strategies for value maintenance, and Vadim Kravcenko examines software project failures, emphasizing the need for accountability and collaboration. Also, Maarten Dalmijn compares evolution’s adaptation mechanisms to Agile’s learning-focused approach, advocating adaptation over prediction, while Alex Miguel Meyer offers methods to counteract the highest-paid person’s opinion (HiPPO) in decision-making with fact-based analysis and structured communication.

Then, Paweł Huryn summarizes Marty Cagan’s insights from “TRANSFORMED” on Product Discovery, Delivery, and Culture, which are essential for product managers aiming for superior products and learning culture. Jonny Williams, Paul Brown, Adam Clark, and Ed Seymour champion a product mindset in platform engineering for value enhancement through incremental improvements and user focus. Moreover, Janna Bastow distinguishes between outputs and outcomes in Product Management, urging a focus on meaningful changes, and David Cox critiques the emphasis on “low-hanging fruit” and marginal gains, suggesting strategic efficiency and tackling valuable problems, drawing lessons from British Cycling’s strategic investment success.

Lastly, Jacob Kaplan-Moss emphasizes breaking down software projects into manageable tasks to ensure effective planning and delegation, aligning them with project goals. Johanna Rothman discusses using agility and real-time data to navigate market volatility, recommending a focus on cycle time and throughput for quick decision-making, and Marcus Hammarberg introduces using Monte Carlo Simulation in Google Sheets for backlog prognosis, offering a data-driven planning method. Finally, Suno is revolutionizing music production by allowing users to create professional-level songs through text prompts, sparking debate on its effects on artists and the future of music creation.

Food for Agile Thought #435: Overcoming the Feature Factory, Product Model First Principles, Output vs Outcome, Overproduction in Software — Age-of-Product.com

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🏆 The Tip of the Week: Overcoming the Feature Factory

John Cutler: How to Learn and Practice Product Management in a Feature Factory

John Cutler offers actionable strategies for product managers to learn and refine their skills within a feature factory setting, emphasizing the value of hands-on experience, customer interaction, and internal collaboration.

🍋 Lemon of the Week

We are lemon-free this week.

➿ Agile & Scrum

Elizabeth Ayer (via Medium): Enshittification as Overproduction in Software, Part 2: Overproduction in the product lifecycle

Elizabeth Ayer delves into the risks of overproduction in software development, emphasizing its varying impact across the product lifecycle and proposing strategies for maintaining value without succumbing to excess features or complexity.

Vadim Kravcenko: Why software projects fail

Vadim Kravcenko highlights subtle reasons for software project failures, including developer overconfidence, inexperienced management, and mismanaged stakeholders. Stressing accountability and collaboration, the piece advocates recognizing project failures to combat the detrimental “not my problem” attitude.

Maarten Dalmijn: Agile: The Blind Watchmaker?

Maarten Dalmijn draws parallels between evolution’s blind adaptation mechanisms and Agile’s emphasis on learning from mistakes rather than over-planning. He encourages embracing adaptation over prediction to find optimal solutions.

(via Medium): The Strategy Consultant’s Way to Counter the Corporate HIPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion)

Alex Miguel Meyer introduces a strategic approach to overcoming the influence of the highest-paid person’s Opinion (HIPPO) in corporate decision-making, emphasizing the importance of fact-based analysis and structured communication.

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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.

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🎯 Product

Paweł Huryn: Product Model First Principles: Product Discovery, Product Delivery, and Product Culture In Depth

Paweł Huryn summarizes Marty Cagan’s principles from “TRANSFORMED” on Product Discovery, Delivery, and Culture, offering product managers foundational insights for building better products and embracing a learning mindset.

Jonny Williams: There’s no value in your platform!

Jonny Williams and co-authors Paul Brown, Adam Clark, and Ed Seymour advocate for a product mindset in platform engineering, emphasizing incremental improvements, user focus, and aligning with business goals to enhance value delivery in the face of increasing demands and constrained resources.

Janna Bastow (via ProdPad): Output vs Outcome: What's the difference and where should I focus?

Janna Bastow emphasizes the critical distinction between outputs and outcomes in Product Management. She advocates for focusing on the impactful changes and benefits arising from one’s efforts rather than just the tangible deliverables.

(via Mind The Product): Organisations starve on a diet of low-hanging fruit

David Cox criticizes the focus on “low-hanging fruit” and marginal gains in product development, arguing it leads to product debt. He advocates prioritizing strategic efficiency and addressing the most valuable problems for better ROI, inspired by British Cycling’s success through significant investment and strategic choices.

📯 The Top Ten Continuous Improvement Actions for Teams

Cultivating a culture of continuous improvement within Scrum teams or Agile teams is pivotal for personal well-being, enhancing effectiveness, building trust with stakeholders, and delivering products that genuinely enhance customers’ lives.

This post dives into the top ten actionable strategies derived from the Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide book, providing a roadmap for teams eager to embrace Kaizen practices. From embracing Scrum values and fostering psychological safety to prioritizing customer feedback and continuous learning, these strategies offer a comprehensive approach to fostering innovation, collaboration, and sustained improvement.

The Top Ten Continuous Improvement Actions for Teams — Age-of-Product.com

Read more: The Top Ten Continuous Improvement Actions for Teams.

🛠 Concepts, Tools & Measuring

Jacob Kaplan-Moss: Breaking Down Tasks

Jacob Kaplan-Moss offers guidance on breaking down software projects into tasks, emphasizing the importance of defining tasks clearly for effective planning and delegation. His approach aims to make tasks manageable and aligned with project goals.

Johanna Rothman: How to Predict A Little About the Future Work Without Long Intricate Plans

Johanna highlights the importance of agility and real-time data for adapting to market volatility. She shows how focusing on cycle time, throughput, and immediate data enables quick, informed decisions, suggesting setting overarching goals to guide adaptable strategies.

Marcus Hammarberg: Monte Carlo Simulation for backlog prognosis – with one function in Google Sheets

Marcus Hammarberg demonstrates how to use Monte Carlo Simulation in Google Sheets for backlog prognosis with minimal data, inspired by Daniel Vacanti’s “When will it be done”. By tracking start and stop dates, the simulation predicts completion times with varying confidence levels, offering a data-driven approach to project planning.

🎶 Encore

(via Rolling Stone): A ChatGPT for Music Is Here. Inside Suno, the Startup Changing Everything

Suno, an AI startup, is transforming music production, enabling users to generate professional-level songs with simple text prompts. This capability raises questions about the impact on traditional artists and the future of music creation.


📅 Scrum Training & Event Schedule

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🖥 💯 🇬🇧 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
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🖥 🇩🇪 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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🗞️ Last Week’s Food for Agile Thought Edition

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

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