TL; DR: The Dark Age of Waterfall — Food for Agile Thought #412
Welcome to the 412th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 49,218 peers. This week, Henrik Mårtensson criticizes the re-emergence of the Waterfall method in software development; Ken Schwaber discusses refining the 2020 Scrum Guide to better serve as a reflective framework, inviting community feedback. Also, Emily Webber highlights three collaboration anti-patterns that create power imbalances and hinder problem-solving, while Burcu A. Şengün offers ten valuable tips for budding Scrum Masters, emphasizing patience, continuous learning, and effective communication. Moreover, the Lemon introduces “time-mapped Estimation” to simplify Scrum estimations by mapping story points to person-hours. (Yub, you read this correctly.)
Then, Saeed Khan introduces four Product Management Axioms to guide and communicate fundamental principles in product management, and Rich Mironov discusses the organizational transformation from a services-centric to a product-centric model, stressing the distinct business models and the need for a clear stance to improve alignment and efficiency.. Anthony Murphy showcases the value of structured storytelling in product management, a skill transitioned from his military training. He asserts that a well-constructed narrative greatly enhances clarity and influence in professional communication.
Finally, Kimberly Hendrick celebrates user stories as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue rather than mere task descriptors. At the same time, Ari Tikka critiques the unscientific “Team Performance Curve” in “The Wisdom of Teams” by Katzenbach and Smith, advocating for emphasizing organizational conditions over “teamyness” for enhanced team performance. Johanna Rothman proposes reducing Work in Progress (WIP) and increasing team size to improve collaboration and efficiency, evolving them into small-world networks for better results. Lastly, Marc Randolph reflects on Netflix’s trust-centric approach during its DVD-by-mail era, illustrating how trust, balanced with verification, fortified customer relations.
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🏆 The Tip of the Week: The Dark Age of Waterfall
Waterfall – The Dark Age of Software Development Has Returned!:
Henrik Mårtensson expresses dismay over the resurgence of the Waterfall method in software development, outlining its historical misinterpretation and inherent flaws compared to agile and Critical Path Method (CPM).
🍋 Lemon of the Week
Medium): Better Performance using Time-mapped Story Points Estimation in a Scrum Environment(via
This week’s Lemon author suggests that “Time-mapped Estimation” simplifies Scrum estimations. You read correctly: mapping story points to person-hours based on a fixed exchange ratio.
➿ Agile & Scrum
I have been getting queries recently. People want to know when the next Scrum Guide is coming out.:
Ken Schwaber mentions the effort to refine the 2020 Guide on Scrum, emphasizing its role as a reflective framework rather than a directive tool, and invites feedback for further improvements.
InfoQ): Bridging Silos and Overcoming Collaboration Antipatterns in Multidisciplinary Organisations(via
Emily Webber identifies three collaboration anti-patterns in organizations, leading to power imbalances and hindering problem-solving. She suggests fostering transdisciplinary teams and natural cross-overs to enhance effective collaboration.
(via Medium): Scrum Mastery: 10 Tips You Should Know at the Beginning
Burcu A. Şengün shares ten insightful tips for aspiring Scrum Masters, underscoring the importance of patience, continuous learning, effective communication, and embracing Agile’s flexible framework for adaptive problem-solving and constructive team engagement.
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Medium): Product Management Axioms(via
Saeed Khan shares four Product Management Axioms derived from their experience in various software companies to guide, focus, and communicate fundamental principles in their role, emphasizing the importance of influence in effective product management.
Moving from Services to Products:
Rich Mironov discusses the challenges and organizational shift in transitioning from a services-centric to a product-centric company, emphasizing the contrasting business models, investor values, and internal dynamics while advocating for a clear stance to optimize alignment and operational efficiency.
Why Most Product Managers Aren’t Great Storytellers:
Anthony Murphy emphasizes the power of structured storytelling, drawing from his military training in precise communication. He highlights the transition of these skills into product management, proposing that a well-framed narrative can significantly enhance clarity and influence in professional communication.
📯 Lost in Communication and Collaboration
Lost in Communication and Collaboration addresses two categories from the Scrum anti-patterns taxonomy that are closely aligned: ineffective collaboration at the stakeholder level, often resulting in an unsuited reporting system based on misaligned metrics.
Learn how these Scrum anti-patterns categories manifest themselves and how they affect value creation for customers and the organization’s long-term sustainability.
This is the second of three articles analyzing the 183 anti-patterns from the upcoming Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide book. The third article will address failures and breakdowns in planning, process, collaboration, and alignment within the Scrum framework.
🛠 Concepts, Tools & Measuring
Gosei): Forget Katzenbach’s Team Performance Curve(via
Ari Tikka critiques “The Wisdom of Teams” by Katzenbach and Smith, highlighting its unscientific “Team Performance Curve” and oversimplified team stages. He emphasizes the importance of organizational conditions over mere “teamyness” for better team performance, referencing Richard Hackman’s extensive research.
Want Better and Faster Results? Increase Team Size and Reduce WIP:
Johanna Rothman revisits their stance on small teams being more efficient, realizing that the crux of team dysfunction is high Work in Progress (WIP). By reducing WIP, even larger teams can foster better collaboration and efficiency, morphing into small-world networks instead of disjointed communication paths, thus advancing towards better and faster results.
(via InfoQ): User Story: a Placeholder for a Conversation
Kimberly Hendrick underscores that a user story is more a catalyst for meaningful dialogue than a task descriptor. She laments recent shifts towards documentation over a valuable conversation, advocating for utilizing user stories and adept story slicing to foster understanding and maintain cohesiveness.
Trust Your Customers:
Marc Randolph recounts Netflix’s trust-based approach during its DVD-by-mail era, embracing customer honesty over stringent loss prevention. Despite occasional losses or deceit, this stance fortified customer relations. An incident of a mailman pilfering DVDs led to a lesson: trust but verify.
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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, how to avoid the Dark Age of Waterfall:
- Hands-on Agile 52: From Wild West to the Agile Manifesto with Jim Highsmith.
- 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.
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Help your team overcoming the Dark Age of Waterfall by pointing them to the free Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide :