Food for Agile Thought #415: Product Nightmares, Assumption Testing Guide, Freemium Fiasco, Agile Inflection Point?

TL; DR: Product Nightmares — Food for Agile Thought #415

Welcome to the 415th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 49,394 peers. This week, we delve into various aspects of Agile and Scrum, starting with Dean Peters’ eerie depiction of product nightmares as Halloween monsters, urging an outcome-driven strategy. Mike Griffith contemplates the mainstream adoption of Agile amid declining conference attendance, hinting at a possible inflection point. Jason Evanish warns against toxic positivity’s corrosive effects on workplace morale and productivity. Also, Viktor Cessan shares how a tailored feedback format enriched communication in a re-missioned team. And, seriously, this Week’s Lemon suggests a hybrid approach of Agile and Waterfall.

Then, Teresa Torres highlights the value of regular assumption testing for quick product idea evaluations, and Marty Cagan commends Spotify’s innovation amidst market challenges. Moreover, Itamar Gilad addresses idea prioritization, advocating for a strategic framework with a clear mission and measurable growth model, while Leah Tharin explores the transition to a freemium model, emphasizing aligning sales and marketing incentives, revamping onboarding experiences, and assessing a product’s freemium suitability to prevent revenue loss.

Lastly, Nicola Ballotta delves into Engineering Metrics, showcasing them as instrumental tools in quantifying and enhancing various software development aspects and aligning engineering operations with broader business goals. Additionally, we unveil a novel Stability Metric (ψ) based on queueing theory to bolster predictability in agile systems. The authors suggest the application of ψ as a tool for teams to improve project timeline foresight and enhance predictability. Finally, we point to the recording of Bob Galen’s session on ‘An Agile Coaches Guide to Storytelling” at the 53. Hands-on Agile.

Food for Agile Thought #415: Product Nightmares, Assumption Testing Guide, Freemium Fiasco, An Agile Inflection Point? —

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🏆 The Tip of the Week: Product Nightmares

Dean Peters (via 280 Group): 6 Product Management Nightmares

In time for Halloween, Dean Peters employs horror imagery to highlight mismanaged Scrum practices, depicting common pitfalls as monsters like “Scrumzilla” and “Frankensoft” that destroy structured roadmaps. He advocates for an outcome-driven strategy to navigate product development mayhem.

🍋 Lemon of the Week

Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez (via Harvard Business Review): It’s Time to End the Battle Between Waterfall and Agile

This Week’s Lemon suggests that rigid adherence to either Waterfall or Agile can be limiting and advocates for a hybrid methodology tailored to a project’s unique demands. Unfortunately, the advertised hybrid approach of Agile and Waterfall is not a solution but a worst-of-breed combination of the two practices.

➿ Agile & Scrum

Mike Griffiths: Is the Agile Movement at an Inflection Point?

Mike Griffith reflects on the possible mainstream absorption of Agile, citing shrinking Agile conference attendances but growing business agility needs. He mentions hybrid approaches and contemplates whether the observed trend indicates an inflection point or confirmation bias.

Jason Evanish (via Get Lighthouse): Toxic Positivity in the Workplace: Why & How to Deal with it

Jason Evanish emphasizes the detrimental effects of toxic positivity in the workplace, where an overemphasis on maintaining a cheerful facade leads to suppressed issues, loss of psychological safety, and increased stress, eventually resulting in lowered productivity and team member burnout.

Viktor Cessan: Case Study – Enhancing Team Collaboration Through a Peer Feedback Process

Viktor Cessan discusses addressing shallow communication in a re-missioned team by integrating a tailored feedback format, which led to better interaction and aligned the team with new responsibilities.

🎓 🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Class w/ PSFS Certificate — November 28, 2023

The Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills (PSFS) training by Berlin Product People is a guaranteed one-day official class for advanced Scrum practitioners and agile coaches, including the industry-acknowledged PSFS certification. This PSFS training class is in English.

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

Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Class w/ PSFS Certificate — November 28, 2023 — PST Stefan Wolpers

Learn more: 🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Class w/ PSFS Certificate — November 28, 2023.

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🎯 Product

Teresa Torres: Assumption Testing: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Teresa Torres emphasizes the pivotal role of assumption testing in swiftly evaluating product ideas, advocating for a regular cadence in this practice to enhance decision-making and, ultimately, product success.

Marty Cagan (via Silicon Valley Product Group): The Product Model at Spotify

Marty Cagan highlights Spotify's exceptional adaptation to market challenges by innovating in user music discovery, showcasing the importance of understanding user segments, value-driven experimentation, and fostering an environment where empowered product teams thrive.

Itamar Gilad: Why You're Struggling to Prioritize

Itamar Gilad highlights the challenge of idea prioritization, advocating for a structured strategic context encompassing a clear mission, evolving strategy, and measurable growth model. He emphasizes concise, quantifiable goals at company and team levels to prioritize ideas effectively.

Leah Tharin: Freebie Fiasco: Why Freemium Might Wreck Your Revenue

Leah Tharin discusses the pitfalls of transitioning to a freemium model, especially without proper market readiness. She elaborates on aligning sales and marketing incentives, reworking onboarding experiences, and ensuring the product’s suitability for a freemium model to prevent revenue collapse.

📺 An Agile Coaches Guide to Storytelling — Bob Galen at the 53. Hands-on Agile

On September 5, 2023, we had the opportunity to listen to Bob Galen on “An Agile Coaches Guide to Storytelling.” In this session, Bob shared his experience coaching an agile coach struggling to connect with a development manager. He underscored the transformative impact of incorporating personal narratives, lessons learned, teaching stories, and purpose or vision stories into coaching conversations. Moreover, Bob demonstrated the compelling power of storytelling in agile coaching by using stories to share knowledge and wisdom while fostering dialogue.

An Agile Coaches Guide to Storytelling — Bob Galen at the 53. Hands-on Agile

📺 Watch the video now: An Agile Coaches Guide to Storytelling — Bob Galen at the 53. Hands-on Agile.

🛠 Concepts, Tools & Measuring

(via InfoQ): How Agile Teams Can Improve Predictability by Measuring Stability

The Authors introduce the Stability Metric (ψ) rooted in queueing theory to enhance predictability in agile systems, revealing that 73% of analyzed projects lacked stability. They propose utilizing ψ to help teams better foresee project timelines and improve predictability.

Nicola Ballotta: Diving into Engineering Metrics

Nicola Ballotta illuminates the essence of Engineering Metrics, portraying them as quantitative tools for gauging various facets of software development. He accentuates their pivotal role in optimizing work, enhancing performance, supporting informed decision-making, and aligning engineering endeavors with overarching business objectives.

🎶 Encore

(via XKCD Comic): Inspiraling Roundabout

When you finally managed to squeeze all requirements into a comprehensive roadmap.

📅 Scrum Training & Event Schedule

You can secure your seat for Scrum training classes, workshops, and meetups directly by following the corresponding link in the table below:

Date Class and Language City Price
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 December 6, 2023 GUARANTEED: Hands-on Agile #57: Humble Planning: How To Make Your Plans Suck Less with Maarten Dalmijn (English; Live Virtual Meetup) Live Virtual Meetup FREE
🖥 💯 🇩🇪 December 11-12, 2023 GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM I; German; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1,299 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇩🇪 December 13-14, 2023 GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Product Owner Training (PSPO I; German; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1,299 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 December 18-19, 2023 GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Master (Advanced) Training (PSM II; English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €1,299 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Jan 23-Feb 20, 2024 GUARANTEED: Product Backlog Management Cohort Class (English; Live Virtual Class) Live Virtual Class €499 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 #414: Agile Scaling Effectiveness, Product Waste, Customer Obsession, Good Mistakes.

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