TL; DR: Developer Productivity — Food for Agile Thought #408
Welcome to the 408th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 48,813 peers. This week, Kent Beck and Gergely Orosz dispute McKinsey’s measure of developer productivity, underscoring the essence of tailored metrics. Dave West at Agile 2023 notes a perceived halt in Agile’s evolution, highlighting issues from wavering executive support to misdirected investments. Maarten Dalmijn debates Scrum’s pitfalls, suggesting an organizational focus rather than dictating team dynamics. Meanwhile, Pim de Morree shares the Dutch National Police’s transformative journey from top-down to bottom-up methods, providing valuable takeaways for aspiring changemakers. Also, we ask why SAFe® is so successful, although many agile practitioners despise it.
Then, Jayendran Gopalsami exposes biases, like groupthink and popularity bias, that stealthily skew product trajectories. Scott Sehlhorst pinpoints a frequent product management error: addressing symptoms over root causes. Meanwhile, a riveting discourse between Chad McAllister and Atif Rafiq showcases a tripartite formula for expedited innovation. Rafiq, leveraging insights from industry giants, unveils “Decision Sprint,” bridging the chasm between strategy and tangible results.
Lastly, Ciera Jaspan and Collin Green explore the “technical debt” metaphor’s human-centric origins and its implications on software engineering. Lars Jerichau challenges the trend of collaborative ideation, spotlighting studies that laud the superior results of individual brainstorming over group efforts. Additionally, Andy Budd reshapes the revered “Double Diamond” design process, presenting a version more aligned with actual project executions, emphasizing optimal design leverage.
🏅 The most popular discussion on LinkedIn last week was: From the “Most Damaging Book Covers” series: “Scrum—The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time.”
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🏆 The Tip of the Week
Measuring developer productivity? A response to McKinseyand :
Kent Beck and Gergely Orosz challenge McKinsey’s recent assertion about measuring developer productivity, highlighting the nuances of software engineering. They argue against one-size-fits-all metrics, emphasizing the importance of understanding and nurturing high-performing development teams.
🍋 Lemon of the Week
Scrum Is a Cancer:
This week’s Lemon critiques Scrum, likening it to a detrimental force in software development. Drawing from personal experiences, it laments the overemphasis on ceremonies, impractical estimations, and management complexities. The problem is that practically nothing he mentions has anything to do with Scrum. What is missing is self-management, technical excellence, and including everyone in identifying what is worth building.
➿ Agile & Scrum
Scrum: Failure By Design?:
Maarten Dalmijn expresses concerns over Scrum’s perceived flaws. While Scrum intends to empower teams, it often feels disempowering. The article suggests Scrum’s team-level approach should shift to an organizational-level focus, emphasizing conditions for team success rather than prescribing team actions.
Scrum.org): Has Agile Stalled?(via
At Agile 2023, Dave West sensed a stagnation in Agile progress. Issues with Scrum adoption revolve around misalignment, superficial executive support, conflicting incentives, dwindling interest, and skewed investment focus.
Corporate Rebels): Bypassing Traditional Hierarchy: A Bold, Bottom-Up Movement in the Dutch Police Force(via
Jeroen Hammer and Roel Wolfert, two trailblazers within the Dutch National Police, discussed the move from top-down bureaucracy to a bottom-up approach, enhancing engagement and innovation. Their ongoing transformation offers insights for other changemakers.
🎓 🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Class w/ PSFS Certificate — October 4, 2023
The Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills (PSFS) training by Berlin Product People is a guaranteed one-day official Scrum.org 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.
Learn more: 🖥 💯 🇬🇧 Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Class w/ PSFS Certificate — October 4, 2023 .
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Defining the Problems:
Scott Sehlhorst highlights the common misstep of addressing immediate situations instead of the underlying problems in product management.
(via Mind The Product): Unconscious biases – how do they impact the product roadmap?
Jayendran Gopalsami delves into hidden biases that also influence product development trajectories, from popularity bias to attribution bias to groupthink.
🎙 Using Exploration, Alignment, and Decision-making to Innovate into the Unknownand :
Chad McAllister’s and Atif Rafiq’s discussion centers on a three-part framework for swift problem-solving and innovation. Drawing from his vast experience in top companies, Rafiq introduces “Decision Sprint,” a new approach to bridging strategy and action.
📯 SAFe® — Despised, Yet Successful?
Many in the Agile community consider the Scaled Agile Framework designed by Dean Leffingwell and Drew Jemilo as unagile, violating the Agile Manifesto and the Scrum Guide. “True agilists” would never employ SAFe® to help transition corporations to agility. SAFe® is an abomination of all essential principles of “agility.” They despise it.
Nevertheless, SAFe® has proven not only to be resilient but thriving. SAFe® has a growing market share in the corporate world and is now the agile framework of choice for many large organizations.
How come? Learn more about nine reasons for this development.
PS: I have no affiliation with SAFe® whatsoever and consider it harmful. Yet there are lessons to learn.
Learn more: SAFe® — Despised, Yet Successful? .
🛠 Concepts, Tools & Measuring
(via IEEE Spectrum): Defining, Measuring, and Managing Technical Debt
Ciera Jaspan and Collin Green dive into the evolution of the “technical debt” metaphor, underscoring its human-centered roots and the often misunderstood consequences for software engineering. Learn more about demystifying technical debt.
Smashing Magazine): Improving The Double Diamond Design Process(via
Andy Budd critiques the traditional “Double Diamond” design process, suggesting a version more reflective of real-world project delivery. His approach aims to pinpoint better where design has maximum impact, offering a more feasible solution.
(via UX Collective): The tyranny of collaborative ideation
Despite the popularity of collaborative ideation tools, Lars Jerichau points to multiple studies that suggest individual ideation outperforms group brainstorming in quality and quantity. Research indicates that accumulating ideas from individuals yields better results than those from a group of the same number.
There are no entries to this category this week.
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📺 Join 5,000-plus Agile Peers on Youtube
Now available on the Age-of-Product Youtube channel to improve learning, for example, developer productivity:
- Hands-on Agile EXTRA: How Elon Musk Would Run YOUR Business with Joe Justice.
- Hands-on Agile 50: The Product Community of Practice with Petra Wille.
- Hands-on Agile 46: The Agile Fluency Model ® with Diana Larsen.
- Hands-on Agile 43: Outcome-Based Product Planning with Jeff Gothelf.
- Hands-on Agile 42: Lean Roadmapping and OKRs with Janna Bastow.
- Hands-on Agile 38: The Product Owner with Roman Pichler.
✋ Do Not Miss Out and Learn more about Developer Productivity — Join the 12,000-plus Strong ‘Hands-on Agile’ Slack Community
I invite you to join the “Hands-on Agile” Slack Community and enjoy the benefits of a fast-growing, vibrant community of agile practitioners from around the world.
If you like to join all you have to do now is provide your credentials via this Google form , and I will sign you up. By the way, it’s free.
Help your team to explore developer productivity by pointing them to the free Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide :