Food for Agile Thought #419: Waterfall vs. Agile, Brian Chesky on Product, Musk vs. Bureaucracy, AI-Washing

TL; DR: Waterfall vs. Agile — Food for Agile Thought #419

Welcome to the 419th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 49,633 peers. This week, Henrik Mårtensson challenges the supposed conflict of Waterfall vs. Agile, advocating for a fresh understanding of software methodology. Heidi Musser urges reevaluating and expanding Agile principles to better align with evolving business landscapes. Joost Minnaar presents Elon Musk’s pragmatic, five-step strategy to cut through bureaucracy effectively. Lastly, Ivar Jacobson and Alistair Cockburn reaffirm the enduring significance of use cases in software development, highlighting their benefits across various stakeholder groups.

Then, we delve into pivotal insights from tech giants. Lenny Rachitsky’s interview with Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky reveals insights into Airbnb’s product management and innovative culture. John Cutler and Melissa Perri analyze Airbnb’s strategic evolution from a startup to a market leader. Moreover, Cedric Chin’s discussion with former Amazon executive Colin Bryar uncovers Amazon’s distinct “Weekly Business Review” management style. Finally, Rich Mironov navigates the AI hype, advocating for thoughtful integration of AI into products, distinguishing genuine value from mere ‘AI-washing.’

Lastly, Jeff Patton identifies five prevalent mistakes in story mapping, advising on maintaining narrative and outcome focus. Ideo presents a comparison between Systems Thinking and Design Thinking, highlighting their distinct approaches to problem-solving. Also, Jason Yip critiques McKinsey’s perspective on measuring developer productivity, advocating for direct observation and multifaceted metrics. Finally, Teri Musick champions the inclusion of neurodiversity in Agile teams, emphasizing recognizing and accommodating diverse thought processes and communication methods.

Food for Agile Thought #419: Waterfall vs. Agile, Brian Chesky on Product, Musk vs. Bureaucracy, AI-Washing —

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🏆 The Tip of the Week: Waterfall vs. Agile

Henrik Mårtensson: Waterfall vs. Agile: Battle of the Dunces or A Race to the Bottom?

Henrik Mårtensson critically dissects the misconception of a ‘Waterfall vs. Agile’ battle in a recent HBR article, debunking the existence of Waterfall as a methodology and warning against reviving it in modern software development.

🍋 Lemon of the Week

We are lemon-free this Week.

➿ Agile & Scrum

Joost Minnaar (via Corporate Rebels): Musk's 5 Step Algorithm to Cut Internal Bureaucracy at Tesla and SpaceX

Joost Minnaar outlines Elon Musk’s five-step algorithm to eliminate bureaucracy: question every requirement, delete unnecessary process parts, simplify and optimize, accelerate cycle time, and automate, emphasizing its significant organizational impact.

(via Agile Alliance): Reimagine Agile: Back to Basics, Forward to the Future

Heidi Musser calls for the Agile community’s active involvement in reimagining Agile, emphasizing the need to update and extend its principles to meet contemporary challenges.

(via Agile Alliance): Neurodiversity and invisible disabilities in Agile

Teri Musick urges Agile teams to embrace neurodiversity, offering practical tips for creating inclusive environments that recognize diverse thinking and communication styles.

🎓 🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Product Backlog Management Cohort Class of Jan 23 to Feb 20, 2024

Discover the Product Owner success principles in this engaging Product Backlog Management cohort class and accelerate your professional growth and career perspective with tried & tested, hands-on practices:

  • Excel at delivering value regularly — your #1 career success factor.
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  • Abandon the feature factory. Instead, learn to contribute to customer and organizational success.
  • Gain actionable insights, learn supportive tools, and practice everything in a safe community of like-minded peers.
  • Learn to say no and build trust and rapport with stakeholders while focusing on creating value.
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The class will be offered in English.

Enjoy the benefits of an immersive cohort class with like-minded agile peers on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, January 23, 2024, from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm o’clock CET.
  • Tuesday, February 6, 2024, from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm o’clock CET.
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🎯 Product

Lenny Rachitsky and Brian Chesky: Brian Chesky’s new playbook for product, leadership, and growth

Lenny Rachitsky interviews Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, discussing Airbnb’s approach to product management, combating bureaucracy, setting ambitious goals, and new feature releases.

John Cutler and Melissa Perri: The New Airbnb (Lenny's Podcast) w/Melissa Perri

John Cutler and Melissa Perri explore Airbnb’s leadership and strategy evolution, raising critical questions about the company’s transition from startup to industry leader and its approach to product management.

Cedric Chin and Colin Bryar (via Commonplace): 📺 Colin Bryar on the practice of Amazon's Weekly Business Review

Cedric Chin interviewed Colin Bryar, ex-Amazon leader and ‘Jeff’s shadow,’ who co-wrote ‘Working Backwards.’ Colin offers an insider perspective on Amazon’s unique management practice of the ‘Weekly Business Review.’

Rich Mironov: AI-Washing

Rich Mironov discusses the AI hype cycle, urging a strategic approach to integrating AI in products, differentiating between superficial ‘AI-washing’ and meaningful, value-driven AI applications.

📯 Overcoming Product Backlog Management Traps — David Pereira at the 54. Hands-on Agile

How teams manage their Product Backlog often makes or breaks their value creation chances. Poor backlog management leads to a feature factory trap, while a mindful strategy enables the team to drive value steadily. During the 54th Hands-on Agile meetup, David Pereira shared tried and tested practices to avoid the feature factory fate.

Overcoming Common Product Backlog Management Traps — David Pereira at the 54. Hands-on Agile

📺 Watch the video now: Overcoming Common Product Backlog Management Traps — David Pereira at the 54. Hands-on Agile.

🛠 Concepts, Tools & Measuring

Jeff Patton: Five Common Story Mapping Mistakes

Jeff Patton highlights five common mistakes in story mapping: losing the narrative, over-detailing, flow fixation, over-mapping for single features, and not anchoring releases to outcomes.

Jason Yip (via Medium): Yes, You Can Measure Software Developer Productivity… But Are You Sure That’s What You’re Measuring or Want to Measure?

Jason Yip responds to McKinsey’s article on measuring developer productivity, stressing the importance of direct observation, nuanced metrics at different levels, and recognizing the value beyond just coding in software development.

(via IDEO U): Systems Thinking vs Design Thinking, What’s the Difference?

Ideo contrasts Systems Thinking, which focuses on understanding entire systems for change, with Design Thinking, a human-centered approach for creating products and services.

🎶 Encore

Teresa Torres: No Time for Discovery? Here’s How to Fix It.

Teresa Torres emphasizes that product discovery doesn’t hinder delivery but should occur alongside it for optimal product development, addressing common objections to incorporating discovery into busy schedules.

📅 Scrum Training & Event Schedule

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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
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🖥 💯 🇬🇧 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 #418: Spotify Product Model, Advanced Forecasting, Healthy Storming, Biases in Product Management.

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