Food for Agile Thought #366: Taming Complexity, Agile Bureaucracy, Mapping Innovation at Scale, Good Activation Rates

TL; DR: Taming Complexity — Food for Agile Thought #366

Welcome to the 366th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 36,188 peers. This week, we identify five practical ways of taming complexity to avoid feature creep and pushing away users and share “examples of organizations that operate beyond the traditional set of agile practices and have been able to break down the bureaucratic hierarchy by adopting radical forms of consent, participation, and self-management.” Also, we have a look at building high-trust teams at Shopify in a remote working world, and suggest shifting “from leading with goals to leading with questions,” referring to Nobel laureate Richard Feynman.

Then, we point out that many companies may run experiments to test product ideas with users and customers; however, they fail to follow up with meaningful action. Following this example of failing innovation, we share lessons learned from a 100-plus-year-old company that is still a market leader, trying to innovate itself out of decline. Moreover, we appreciate a global benchmarking survey on activation rates with participants from Expedia, Grammarly, Canva, Duolingo, and others and examine the Lean UX Canvas in detail, pointing to shortcomings such as the need for a root cause analysis or mapping dependencies.

Finally, we share a primer on why “interviewing stakeholders provides helpful information about their context, [allowing] us to identify business goals they are concerned with, and increases their support.” And we close this edition of the newsletter with a video that explains what it takes to successfully use OKRs and points to common anti-patterns in their application, from tying them to compensation to excessive use.

Food for Agile Thought #366: Taming Complexity, Agile Bureaucracy, Mapping Innovation at Scale, Good Activation Rates — Age-of-Product.com

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🏆 The Tip of the Week: Taming Complexity

Casey Winters: Five Ways to Address Complexity In Your Product

Following on Scott Belsky’s notion that users flock to simple products, Casey Winters sketches five practical ways of taming complexity to avoid feature creep and pushing away users.

There is no easy way out of the product lifecycle. Like scaling a culture, it requires a lot of intentionality to scale a product without losing the simplicity that drove so many people to it in the first place.

➿ Agile & Scrum

Jurriaan Kamer (via YouTube): 📺 We're stuck in agile bureaucracy – but there is hope!

Jurriaan Kamer shares “examples of organizations that operate beyond the traditional set of agile practices and have been able to break down the bureaucratic hierarchy by adopting radical forms of consent, participation, and self-management.”

Steef-Jan Wiggers and Jesse McGinnis (via InfoQ): Building High-Trust and High-Performing Teams at Shopify in a Remote World

Jesse McGinnis shared lessons on building high-trust teams at Shopify in a remote working world.

Tiago Forte: How to Thrive in a World of Uncertainty

Tiago Forte claims that “the future has become so uncertain that goals are now obsolete” and suggests shifting “from leading with goals to leading with questions,” referring to Nobel laureate Richard Feynman.

🎓 🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Advanced Professional Scrum Master Online Training w/ PSM II Certificate — December 12-13, 2022

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Enjoy the benefits of a compact immersive class with like-minded agile peers from 09:00 – 17:30 o’clock CET.

Advanced Professional Scrum Master Online Training w/ PSM II Certificate — December 12-13, 2022 — Berlin-Product-People.com

Learn more: 🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Advanced Professional Scrum Master Online Training w/ PSM II Certificate — December 12-13, 2022.

“Very hands-on class with lots of concrete takeaways to help in real world scenarios. Reinforced practices and highlighted things that helped in passing the PSM II exam but that was merely a bonus as the content of the class is so useful – certifications or not. Stefan Wolpers is an excellent trainer with broad practical and theoretical knowledge on the subject and his classes seem to have very good working atmosphere (this was a second class by him that I have taken).”

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🎯 Product

Itamar Gilad: The Build-Measure-LooksGood! Loop

Itamar Gilad shares his observation that many companies may run experiments to test product ideas with users and customers; however, they fail to follow up with meaningful action. Learn more from Itamar on how to avoid this failure.

Steve Blank: A Simple Map for Innovation at Scale

Steve Blank shares lessons learned from a 100-plus year-old company that is still a market leader, trying to innovate itself out of decline.

Marcus Castenfors (via Crisp): 📺 An intro to Holistic Product Discovery

Marcus Castenfors introduces his framework, sharing background information from product discovery first principles to a proven risk mapping technique.

📺 FAST Scaling: An Innovative Way to Scale Agile with James Shore — Hands-on Agile #45

In this energizing 45th Hands-on Agile session, James Shore shared his experiences with scaling “agile:” first with traditional approaches and, more recently, with FAST scaling. Learn in this deep-dive what works, what doesn’t, and how you can try FAST in your organization.

James Shore: FAST: An Innovative Way to Scale — Hands-on Agile #45 — Age-of-Product.com

📺 Watch the video now: James Shore: FAST: An Innovative Way to Scale — Hands-on Agile #45.

🛠 Concepts, Tools & Measuring

Lenny Rachitsky: 📈 What is a good activation rate

Lenny Rachitsky and Yuriy Timen ran a global benchmarking survey on activation rates with participants from Expedia, Grammarly, Canva, Duolingo, and others.

(via Medium): Critical Thinking About The ‘Lean UX’ Canvas

Debbie Levitt examines the Lean UX Canvas in detail, pointing to shortcomings such as the lack of a root cause analysis or mapping dependencies.

Sarah Gibbons (via Nielsen Norman Group): Stakeholder Interviews 101

Sarah Gibbons shares a primer on why “interviewing stakeholders provides helpful information about their context, allows us to identify business goals they are concerned with, and increases their support.”

🎶 Encore

Jenny Herald (via Mind The Product): 📺 The good, bad, and ugly of OKRs

In this video, Jenny Herald explains what it takes to successfully use OKRs and points to common anti-patterns in their application, from tying them to compensation to excessive use.


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🖥 🇺🇸 January 23-26, 2023 US Timezone Professional Scrum Product Owner Training (PSPO I; English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class $1,045-$1,245
🖥 🇬🇧 January 24-27, 2023 Professional Scrum Master (Advanced) Training (PSM II; English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1.189 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇩🇪 January 31-February 3, 2023 Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM I; German; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1.189 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇬🇧 February 7-10, 2023 Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM I; English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1.189 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇺🇸 February 13-16, 2023 — US Timezone Professional Scrum Master (Advanced) Training (PSM II; English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class $1,195-$1,395
🖥 🇩🇪 February 28-March 3, 2023 Professional Scrum Product Owner Training (PSPO I; German; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1.189 incl. 19% VAT

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✋ Do Not Miss Out and Learn more about Taming Complexity — Join the 12,000-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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If you like to join all you have to do now is provide your credentials via this Google form, and I will sign you up. By the way, it’s free.

Help your team with taming complexity by pointing them to the free Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide:

Download the free Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide by PST Stefan Wolpers — 160 ways to improve as a Scrum Team — Age-of-Product.com

🗞️ Last Week’s Food for Agile Thought Edition

Read more: Food for Agile Thought #365: Fixing Toxic Cultures, From Mission to Strategy to Tasks, Difficult Stakeholders, Go-to-Market Canvas — Age-of-Product.com.

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