Food for Thought #29: Pivots, Design Sprints, Scrum Master Traits, Killing Moonshots

Age of Product’s Food for Thought of February 21st, 2016 covers: Pivots — when and how to, challenges w/ changing a product, backstage of a design sprint w/ Google Ventures, how to create a 10x product, from agile projects to agile companies, traits of a great Scrum master, innovative workspaces on a budget, killing moonshots, Silicon Valley’s hang-over, survival of the fittest and Fortune Magazine’s 2016 choice of disruptive entrepreneurs.

Product & Lean

Jason Calacanis (via Medium): Knowing when, and how, to pivot (or, why didn’t news apps work?)

Pivots: Knowing when, and how, to pivot (or, why didn’t news apps work?)

I’ve been beating my head against a wall for the last two years trying to make a news app experience work, and despite great reviews, I’ve failed. So, we’re giving up on the App and focusing 100% of our efforts on a medium that’s resulting in much better engagement — email!

Steven Sinofsky: Why The Heck Can’t We Change Our Product?

One of the most vexing product challenges is evolving the UX (user experience, and/or user UI) over long periods of time, particular when advancing a successful product with a supportive and passionate community.

Hiten Shah (via Quicksprout): Measuring & Understanding Product/Market Fit Qualitatively

A guide on how to use qualitative tactics to learn about whether a product has product/market fit or not.

Jake Knapp (via Medium): Behind the Scenes of Gimlet Media’s Sprint with GV

A chapter that didn’t make the cut for my book ‘Sprint’: Over the past year, I wrote a book called Sprint. One of the hardest things about writing a book is cutting parts you like. I love this story, but it didn’t fit in the book. It was agonizing to cut… but now, it lives again! Hope you enjoy it.

Sarah Tavel (via Medium): How to build an enduring, multi-billion dollar business (hint: create a 10x product + recast…

I wrote that Uber built a multi-billion dollar business by using mobile to create a 10x better product than the incumbent (taxis), and did so at a lower price. The “and”, as I wrote, is everything.

Agile & Scrum

Anna Majowska (via DZone): Can Agile Projects Turn into Agile Companies?

To sum up — organizations can be Agile, and reflect the ways in which projects are Agile, for as long as each part of the organization is also as Agile. It's the kind of change that has to come from within, but as with most changes, it requires work and effort to remain permanent.

Barry Overeem (via The 28 Characteristics of a Great Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring Scrum is understood and enacted. Scrum Masters do this by ensuring that the Scrum Team adheres to Scrum theory, practices, and rules. 
The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team. The Scrum Master helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t. The Scrum Master helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.

Frederik Pferdt (via Google for Work): Creating an Innovative Workplace on a Budget

Many people think they need a big budget to innovate, but that’s simply not the case. Frederik Pferdt, head of innovation and creativity at Google, works with teams to encourage idea generation, creativity and innovation. Frederik walks the walk—he founded The Garage, a space that encourages employees to think beyond the limits, with a big idea and a small budget.

Moonshots, Bubble, Survival of the Fittest

Astro Teller (via Medium): The Secret to Moonshots? Killing Our Projects

X deliberately takes on challenges that seem to fit more comfortably in the pages of pulp science fiction than on the balance sheet of a public company.

At X, I see up close every day how messy innovation is.

Rolfe Winkler (via The Wall Street Journal): For Silicon Valley, the Hangover Begins

With venture-capital investors increasingly nervous, once-hot tech startups are retrenching

Danielle Morrill (via Mattermark): Surviving Whatever Comes Next

tl;dr: Don’t want your company to die? Here’s what to do.

(via Fortune): Entrepreneurs Disrupting Fortune 500 Companies

Retail. Health care. Finance. Food. Entertainment. When a spark of ingenuity meets a powder keg of motivation, no industry is safe from the explosive effects. Today’s founders have the potential to be tomorrow’s captains of industry. In honor of Venture, an all-new section on, we present 15 disrupters who are impacting their industries in novel ways. Executives of Fortune 500 companies, we advise you: Pay attention.

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