Strategic MVP and Iterations

Each strategic project is a set of related user stories – Liz Rice, MindTheProduct

The lively discussion continues around exactly how strategic is Agile if you constantly run short Sprints. Doesn’t it take longer to be strategic?

Actually no…The two concepts (Agile & Strategic) are not mutually exclusive! I read a very interesting article this weekend by Liz Rice who outlines exactly HOW to do this. She’s keen on being realistic and keeping on track.

Liz advocates using a roadmap and planning to prioritize User Stories needed to build the MVP, keeping in mind that it is best to not bog down in details. Plan for the predictable things and get buy-in from your development teams. We all know priorties can and will change, that’s what Agile does so well. Don’t sweat the small stuff but remember if you don’t consciously integrate critical MVP “must have” features into the Quarterly Plan you’ll be forever dealing only with short-term and “urgent” requests.

And that’s no way to develop world class software.

More Value Agile Affect

Agile management overall is based on the simple fact that projects, marketing, business, life, etc., are dynamic, not static. You make plans, but things change. The best teams and organizations are able to respond quickly to such change and capitalize on it. – Scott Brinker, Co-founder & CTO ion interactive, inc.

Sharing my scribbled notes from audience participation and panel leadership – Atlanta TAG Product Management Society event, The Agile Affect: Continue reading “More Value Agile Affect”

Great Scott – We’re Agile but Where’s the Rest of the Company?

Marketing, sales, accounting, support – how do the rest of us handle the cadence of releases from fast, efficient Agile development teams?

I captured a high level summary of product professionals’ discussions at a recent event in Atlanta, called the Agile Affect. The panel of four and moderator all had significant experience in both waterfall and Agile. The audience was no different. Bottomline, if your product organization builds to MVP, so should your stakeholders.

  • You don’t have to be a developer or a product manager to use Agile methods in your craft. That being said, it’s not one-size fits all.
  • If you are in marketing, sales, support or operations in a company the embraces Agile in product development, it’s best practice to modify Agile methods to build your own cadence.
  • There should be a balance between major and minor releases to product. It’s fine to deploy every month yet hold a marketing launch every quarter or to the time-frame which best fits your market.
  • Whatever you do, do not overwhelm sales or your markets with over communication. Here’s that word again – balance the need for iterative product development with the need for clear product benefit messages.
  • Every stakeholder department can create repeatable processes for sharing market context and messaging. All can prioritize demands based on the most urgent needs.
  • Operations and support really, really need to be engaged, at the hip, with the Agile development teams.

ProductCamp Atlanta 2012 is next Saturday 18 August. I would bet this discussion continues there as well.

Would like very much to hear your stories about creating the Agile Affect in your company.

Cheers!

 

The Hindsight Bias – Be Agile – Learn and Re-Learn

Ever wonder why there’s the saying “hindsight is 20/20”- it’s because psychologists have proven our bias towards thinking outcomes must have turned out the way they did and we are convinced we knew it all along .

So what’s the problem?

Because of this bias we may not be learning from our fumbles and that’s a shame.  See here:

The hindsight bias is our tendency towards thinking that things must have turned out the way they actually have. The hindsight bias can be a problem when it stops us learning from our mistakes. If the entrepreneurs knew how biased their estimates of success were, would they have done things differently? … how will they learn to consider alternatives? – Jeremy Dean, @PsyBlog

What’s the solution?

Honestly look at our judgements and provide/think of alternative ways things could have turned out. I think Daily Scrums and Retrospectives help Agile teams see how differently things could done  if teams were not wrapped up in hindsight BLINDness.

What do you think?  Is hindsight always 20/20 as the saying goes?

Do you think hindsight bias is always unproductive and negative? How do Agile teams guard against bias? Is it just “per unusual” in creating product and we who design and create just have to get on with it?

Cheers!

Agile Marketing is On Fire!

It’s only the beginning of summer and Agile Marketing is getting hotter!  It made sense to me “marketer” to use Agile techniques and it’s making sense to a good many others in the industry.

Not unlike Agile Development and Product teams, marketing professionals use Agile methods to increase speed and gain the flexibility required in today’s fast-fast global economy.

…two of the key features of Agile Marketing borrowed from Agile Development: fast iteration and objective testing. – Jason Cohen of SmartBear Software

SprintZero, the first gathering of Agile Marketing Professionals is planned for 11 Jun 2012 in San Francisco. I have been following their blog posts and it sounds positively great. I’ll be sure to share the Agile Marketing Manifesto with you once it’s done.

Here’s to marketing the Agile way! So looking forward to the ride.

Cheers!

Speedy Doesn’t Have to Mean Sloppy – Agile Marketing

MIT's Solar Car

The need for marketing speed is obvious and not just because customers are global and they buy 24/7/365. Factor in market segment fragmentation – how many ways there are to reach customers (channels, multiple devices) and don’t forget the usual product tweaks/frequent updates, along with new world-market dynamics. Speed? no kidding.

How’s a marketing professional supposed to meet the customer/prospects’ expectations of first-rate, quality, relevant and dynamic product messaging in this will-o-wisp environment?

Try a little Agile with your marketing.

  • Forget “big batch” Market Plans for the year and instead chunk the campaign or market planning into small marketing projects. OK, you really can’t do this YET!   So >>> start by limiting the number of pages in the plan. Fill in the details the further along you go. Now you get the picture!
  • Define the success measurements – decide upfront how you’ll know if the campaign, new web page or video you posted is meeting/exceeding expectations. Use tools like Google AdWords or ROI calculators to do this and do this often.  Be flexible, adjust or fix as necessary, maybe even “can” the project. The sooner you know the results, the better you can allocate your scare resources (people, time, money) to the best performing projects. Congratulations, you now have results based marketing.
  • Failure is an option – learn from it…
…just don’t fail the same way twice. – Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, CMO Mindjet

Cheers!

Forensics of a Technical Project with Agile Solutions

Great blog post from Knowledge BLOG:  “What’s wrong with the project approach to software development?” It got me thinking and comparing project management vs. Agile practices.

Compare

Projects are work defined as activities and tasks. There’s a start and an identified end.

OK – but factor in complexity, time to do it, size of the team and available (estimated) budget and the wheels come off.

  • Project stalls or overruns.
  • Agile methods fix this (Strategy Meeting).

ProjMgt Best Practice

Do not begin a project until all goals are well defined and agreed upon. Seriously, who has a crystal ball to share? Let’s break this thing up.

  • Success measures, length of time for “agreed upon?”  – further out, the less agreement.
  • Agile methods fix this (Release Planning, Iteration Planning, Iteration Review).

Scope Creep

In a recent straw poll, 40% of product professionals selected “Managing scope /requirements change” as the most important topic for their career. Seems serious…

  • Agile methods fix this (Iteration Review, Daily Stand-up, Continuous Adaptive Planning).

Managing Expectations Both Sides of the Aisle

Clear communication between development teams and the business suits (I’m a suit), big #FAIL!

  • Mention: Culture clash between “stakeholders’ involvement” and “productive collaboration to build product.”
  • Agile methods fix this (Product Owner, Scrum Team).

Continuity, Lessons Learned

Projects are temporary in nature. Teams who work projects are assigned and then reassigned as the projects live/die.

  • What about continuity, flow, innovation? I think missing.  You lose what you’ve learned.
  • Agile methods fix this (Scrum Team, Retrospective Meeting).

Knock It Out

Why are the honest endeavours of software developers often so disconnected from the delivery of customer and stakeholder value?” –  pg_rule, Knowledge BLOG, January 11, 2011.

I think it’s about covered – using any Agile method provides the foundation for collaboration between product visionaries (sometimes suits), development teams and stakeholders to build products that customers want and buy.