Food For Thought #81: Agile Middle Management, No CEO, Mental Models, Innovator’s Dilemma

Age of Product’s Food for Thought of March 5th, 2017—shared with 6,621 peers—focuses on the subtlety of transitioning organizations to agile ways of working. Jurgen Appelo believes in shapeshifter like flexibility, we unbundle our usual nemesis, the “agile” middle management, and we borrow some insights from Crisp’s decision to go without a CEO.

On the product side, we dive deep into handling the “we know what build syndrome,” and recall the learnings from the innovator’s dilemma and minimum viable product concepts. And we learn to stop fooling ourselves by acknowledging that we are caught in mental models.

Lastly: Behavioral economist Dan Ariely explains why we so often sabotage ourselves – despite knowing better.

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Agile Middle Management

Jurgen Appelo (via Medium): Stop Your “Agile” Transformation! Right. Now.

Jurgen Appelo asks: Are you thinking about implementing Holacracy? Don’t do it! Are you planning to copy the “Spotify model”? Hold it right there! Are you busy introducing SAFe, LeSS, or Nexus? Forget it!

Venkatesh Rao: Unbundling the Manager

Venkatesh Rao analyses in this (highly recommended) newsletter the role of the middle management and its vicinity to moral hazard. Great background for anyone involved in agile transitions.

Katie Hope (via BBC News): No CEO: The Swedish company where nobody is in charge

Katie Hope reports on Crisp – well-known to all agile practitioners – and their lessons learned following their decision to abandon the CEO role three years ago.

Adrian Kerry: You get out what you put in: the role of QA in Agile teams

Adrian Kerry on how companies that are trying to transform to an Agile way of working undertake Quality Assurance (QA) and testing. Meet Adrian in the Hands-on Agile Slack community.

Simon Powers and Dean Latchana: The PMO has the Power to Support your Organisation’s Revolution

Dean Latchana believes that the project management office could be an ally in an agile transition. This first post details typical dysfunctions of the PMO concept.

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Product & Lean

Hiten Shah: What to Do When You Know Exactly What to Build

Hiten Shah recommends that you exercise extreme skepticism with all of your assumptions and convictions if you believe to know what product is worth building.

Abhishek Madhavan (via Medium): Why you should kill your cash cow

Abhishek Madhavan reflects on the innovator’s dilemma: the danger of continuing selling to your laggard customers, while two guys in a garage already killed your business.

Tren Griffin: A Dozen Lessons about Minimum Viable Products

Tren Griffin shares another post of his “A Dozen Lessons” series, this time on the importance of getting the minimum viable product right.

Nils Davis (via Mind The Product): Mental Models for Product Managers

Nils Davis points at product managers’ mental models that drive our decision-making, the way we communicate and collaborate with others, and how we prioritize.

Sarah Doody (via Medium): How to Get Stakeholders to Buy Into User Research

Sarah Doody recommends a four-step framework to get executives, clients, stakeholders, and colleagues on board with user research.

The Essential Read

David Burkus and Dan Ariely: Dan Ariely – On Why We Actually Work

David Burkus interviews Dan Ariely – Professor of Psychology & Behavioral Economics at Duke University – on why we so often fail to act in our best interest.

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