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.
Did you miss the previous Food for Agile Thought’s issue #310?
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🏆 The Tip of the Week
Medium): Demos Over Deadlines(via
Eric Elliott reflects on the abandonment of deadlines for team health and the effectiveness of engineering projects.
➿ Agile & Scrum
The Atlantic): Say Goodbye to Your Manager(via
Ed Zitron delves into the obsolescence of the modern manager, as fewer managers and less bureaucracy equal higher profitability.
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.
How Big Tech Runs Tech Projects and the Curious Absence of Scrum:
Gergely Orosz aggregates insight into how large companies organize engineering projects.
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ProdPad): 📺 Making Better Product Decisions withand (via
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.
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.
Measuring Usability): Why Do People Hate the Net Promoter Score?(via
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.
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.
Medium): OKRs are networks, not hierarchies(via
Chris Butler points at a critical issue in applying OKRs: They don’t work as intended when merely handed down from top to bottom.
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