Food for Agile Thought #311: No More Deadlines, Shipping the Org Chart, Goodbye Managers, OKRs Are Networks

TL; DR: No More Deadlines, Goodbye Managers — Food for Agile Thought #311

Welcome to the 311th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 33,103 peers. This week, we reflect on the abandonment of deadlines for team health and the effectiveness of engineering projects. Also, we delve into the obsolescence of the modern manager; we define cross-functional vs. t-shaped to avoid confusion within teams and larger agile ecosystems, and we have a look at how large companies manage engineering projects.

We then explore how teams can make better product decisions, for example, by employing the Jobs-to-be-done framework; we share war stories from Microsoft regarding the perils of reflecting internal communication structures in a product’s design, and we list eight concerns about NPS, from displacing other efforts to a bad word of mouth.

Lastly, we share the results of a large study on remote work based on data from 61,182 US Microsoft employees over the first six months of 2020, and we point at a critical issue in applying OKRs: They don’t work as intended when merely handed down from top to bottom.

Food for Agile Thought #311: No More Deadlines, Shipping the Org Chart, Goodbye Managers, OKRs Are Networks — Age-of-Product.com

Did you miss the previous Food for Agile Thought’s issue #310?

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🏆 The Tip of the Week

Eric Elliott (via Medium): Demos Over Deadlines

Eric Elliott reflects on the abandonment of deadlines for team health and the effectiveness of engineering projects.

➿ Agile & Scrum

Ed Zitron (via The Atlantic): Say Goodbye to Your Manager

Ed Zitron delves into the obsolescence of the modern manager, as fewer managers and less bureaucracy equal higher profitability.

Ken Rubin: Cross-Functional vs. T-Shaped: Are They the Same Concept?

Ken Rubin shares useful definitions of both terms to avoid confusion within teams and larger agile ecosystems.

Gergely Orosz: How Big Tech Runs Tech Projects and the Curious Absence of Scrum

Gergely Orosz aggregates insight into how large companies organize engineering projects.

🎓 🖥 🇬🇧 Professional Scrum Master Online Training w/ PSM I Certificate: October 19-22, 2021

Discover Scrum’s four success principles in this official Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master training class, leading to and including the industry-recognized PSM I certification. The training is designed as a live virtual class of 4 hours per day from 9 to 13 o’clock CEST and will be offered in English.

Professional Scrum Master Online Training w/ PSM I Certificate: October 19-22, 2021 — Berlin Product People GmbH

Mehr erfahren: 🖥 🇬🇧 Professional Scrum Master Online Training w/ PSM I Certificate: October 19-22, 2021.

Customer review: “Great class. Probably the best training I ever attended. Extremely driven and productive class, with interactive exercises that challenge you to think in Agile manner. Keeps the focus on the point regardless of the remote session. Stefan for sure goes above and beyond to teach you how to be a real Scum master.” (Link.)

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🎯 Product

Joe Leech and Janna Bastow (via ProdPad): 📺 Making Better Product Decisions with

In this podcast, Joe Leech and Janna Bastow explore how teams can make better product decisions, for example, by employing the Jobs-to-be-done framework.

Steven Sinofsky: Don’t Ship the Org Chart

Steven Sinofsky shares war stories from Microsoft regarding the perils of reflecting internal communication structures in a product’s design.

Jeff Sauro (via Measuring Usability): Why Do People Hate the Net Promoter Score?

Jeff Sauro lists eight concerns about NPS, from displacing other efforts to a bad word of mouth.

📯 Estimates Are Useful, Just Ditch the Numbers

Many people dislike estimating work items as estimates supposedly open the path to the misuse of velocity by the managers, reintroducing Taylorism, micro-management, and excessive reporting through the backdoor. To them, for example, the proponents of #noestimates, estimates conflict with basic ideas of agile product development such as self-management, becoming outcome-focused, or leaving the feature factory for good.

I like to suggest a different, less ideological approach: estimates are useful at the team level, just ditch the numbers. How so? Estimation of work items is a fast way for a Scrum team to figure out whether all team members are on the same page regarding the why, the what, and the how of the upcoming work. The numbers are a mere side-effect, probably still valid to inform the team, though. (Indeed, the numbers are not intended to be used beyond the team level.)

By the way, similar to the fact that you cannot “not communicate,” I am convinced that people will always “estimate,” whether they talk about it or not.

Estimates Are Useful, Just Ditch the Numbers — Scrum Master Survival Guide — Age-of-Product.com

Read more: Estimates Are Useful, Just Ditch the Numbers.

🛠 Tools & Measuring

(via nature): The effects of remote work on collaboration among information workers

Nature shares the results of a large study on remote work based on data from 61,182 US Microsoft employees over the first six months of 2020.

Chris Butler (via Medium): OKRs are networks, not hierarchies

Chris Butler points at a critical issue in applying OKRs: They don’t work as intended when merely handed down from top to bottom.

📅 Scrum Training Classes, Workshops, and Events

DateClass and LanguageCityPrice
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 October 19-22, 2021GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM I; English; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 October 26, 2021GUARANTEED: Hands-on Agile #36: Real Cross-functional Teams w/ Jutta Eckstein & Maryse Meinen (English)Live Virtual MeetupFREE
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 October 26-29, 2021GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Product Owner Training (PSPO I; English; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇩🇪 November 2-5, 2021GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Product Owner Training (PSPO I; German; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 November 9-12, 2021GUARANTEED: Advanced Professional Scrum Master Online Training (PSM II; English; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇩🇪 November 15-16, 2021Professional Agile Leadership Essentials Training (PAL-E; German; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇩🇪 November 23-26, 2021Advanced Professional Scrum Master Online Training (PSM II; German; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 November 30, 2021GUARANTEED: Hands-on Agile #37: Agile Metrics Survey 2021—Alexander Bergmann & Stefan Wolpers (English)Live Virtual MeetupFREE
🖥 🇩🇪 Nov 30 — Dec 3, 2021Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM I; German; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇬🇧 December 15-16, 2021Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM I; English; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.299 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇩🇪 December 20-21, 2021Professional Scrum Product Owner Training (PSPO I; German; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT

See all upcoming classes here.

Professional Scrum Trainer Stefan Wolpers

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🗞️ Last Week’s Food for Agile Thought Edition

Read more: Food for Agile Thought #310: Necessity of Leadership Engagement, OKRs in PM—A Practical Guide, Walking the Board, 15 Behaviors of Effective Teams.

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