TL; DR: Continuous Product Improvement — Food for Agile Thought #427
Welcome to the 427th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 47,634 peers. This week, Jeff Patton outlines a continuous product improvement cycle, highlighting its critical stages, and Brian Link delves into the evolving landscape of agile practices, reflecting on the recent dynamics. Heidi Helfand shares valuable strategies from her book “Dynamic Reteaming,” while Joost Minnaar advocates personal transformation as a critical element in successful organizational change. Also, we ask whether Scrum GPTs pose a challenge to Scrum Masters.
Then, Roman Pichler shares essential tips on product portfolio strategy, while Alistair Cockburn advocates using simple use cases and user stories in Agile teams. Jason Evanish guides Product Managers on helping engineers improve feature delivery estimates, and Thiago Brant explores the importance of Business Agility across all areas of your organization, pointing to useful practices and helpful frameworks.
Lastly, Alex Ewerlöf discusses the concept of ‘tech gamble’ and the importance of informed decision-making in technology development. The Consortium for Information & Software Quality™ highlights the high cost of poor software quality in the US, and Dave Snowden reflects on his early work with matrices and their alignment with complexity science. Shane Hastie’s interview with psychologist John Fisher explores the Fisher Change Curve and its applications in change management. Finally, Economist Tyler Cowen delves into the evolving role of AI, from its potential for leveling the playing field to its broader societal implications in various domains.
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🏆 The Tip of the Week: Continuous Product Improvement
The Continuous Product Improvement Cycle:
Jeff Patton discusses the continuous product improvement cycle, a model for teaching product development. It covers the cycle’s four parts: Sense, Focus, Discover, and Deliver, explaining how they help understand customers, prioritize work, test ideas, and release new features, emphasizing tech products’ need for frequent updates.
🍋 Lemon of the Week
We do not have a lemon this week.
➿ Agile & Scrum
Why is the world of agile changing?:
Brian Link analyzes the evolving agile landscape, attributing changes to cost-cutting, agile saturation, and coaching quality. He advises agile professionals to broaden their skills, reposition themselves, and focus on meeting current industry needs in leadership, product management, agile basics, and team support.
The art and wisdom of changing teamsand :
In a podcast by Lenny Rachitsky, Heidi Helfand discusses her book “Dynamic Reteaming.” She shares expertise on the necessity and benefits of reteaming in organizations, exploring five key patterns and offering strategies for effective team restructuring and decision-making.
How To Fix Broken Teams:
The article provides a guide to fixing dysfunctional teams and identifying issues like complexity and undermanagement. Key steps include appointing a new manager, improving processes, removing negative influences, introducing new members, and revising team missions.
Corporate Rebels): The Importance of Transforming the Self in Change Management(via
Joost Minnaar underscores the role of personal transformation in organizational change, advocating for self-reflection and autonomy to drive progressive workplace evolution.
🎓 🖥 🇬🇧 Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills Class w/ PSFS Certificate — February 15, 2024
The Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills (PSFS) training by Berlin Product People is a 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 live-virtual immersive class with like-minded agile peers from 09:00 – 17:30 o’clock CET.
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Humanizing Work): 📺 Alistair Cockburn on Use Cases & User Stories(via
In this interview, Alistair Cockburn, an Agile Manifesto co-author, advocates for the use of use cases in Agile teams. He presents them as simple, story-like series of sentences that facilitate organization-wide discussion and critique, effectively complementing user stories in Agile product development. Cockburn suggests practical steps for integrating these lightweight use cases.
Everything You Need to Know about Product Portfolio Strategy:
Roman Pichler’s article details the product portfolio strategy, which is crucial for managing groups of products like Microsoft Office. It differentiates between product portfolio, family, and line, and outlines key elements of an effective portfolio strategy. The piece also highlights how individual product strategies align with the overall portfolio, emphasizing the importance of regular management and strategy updates.
How Product Managers can help their Engineers make Better Estimates:
Jason Evanish advises Product Managers on aiding engineers in making better feature delivery estimates, focusing on breaking down tasks, early discussions on complex projects, flexibility in scope, clear product specs, and pre-Sprint planning meetings.
(via Management 3.0): Business Agility Explained
Thiago Brant delves into Business Agility, highlighting insights on its necessity across all organizational areas. He emphasizes the centrality of people in Business Agility and explores its concept, significance, and practices, including critical challenges and frameworks for effective implementation.
📯 Could a Scrum GPT Challenge Scrum Masters?
Fewer Jobs for Scrum Masters, and now we see the universal Scrum GPT entering the competition: Will Scrum Masters change from essential practitioners to a niche role?
The job market is currently challenging for many agile practitioners, particularly Scrum Masters. Many are looking for new opportunities, while an increasing number of organizations consider the benefits they contribute to a team’s overall success. This is not just reflected in fewer job offerings for Scrum Masters; we also observe the demand for training significantly reduced.
To make the situation worse, AI has improved significantly over the last 12 months, too. Back in November 2023, OpenAI released GPTs, a hyper-customizable version of their GPT-4-based chatbot. (Please note that you need to have access to OpenAI’s paid version of ChatGPT to use GPTs.)
Besides the exciting market opportunity for many people with specific knowledge, data, or content, the question is what implication this new technology will have on the job market for agile practitioners when their roles are partly based on “knowledge” now available from a machine?
Read the article now: Could a Scrum GPT Challenge Scrum Masters ?
🛠 Concepts, Tools & Measuring
Alex Ewerlöf discusses ‘tech gamble,’ a proactive yet often misguided approach to overengineering technology, contrasting it with reactive tech debt and emphasizing the importance of informed decision-making.
(via CISQ): Cost of Poor Software Quality in the US: A 2022 Report
Consortium for Information & Software Quality™ highlights the rising cost of poor software quality in the US, in 2022 at $2.41 trillion, focusing on cybercrime, supply chain issues, and growing Technical Debt.
The Cynefin Company): The uncertainty matrices(via
Dave Snowden reflects on his early work, developing two matrices contrasting system knowledge and decision-maker awareness. These evolved with his focus on complexity science, aligning with Cynefin domains to aid strategic decision-making.
InfoQ): Using The Fisher Change Curve to Build Empathy(via
Shane Hastie interviews psychologist John Fisher on the Fisher Change Curve, discussing its application in team dynamics, the importance of communication in change management, and the role of coaches in guiding individuals and teams through change processes.
Every): Economist Tyler Cowen on How ChatGPT Is Changing Your Job(via
Economist Tyler Cowen discusses the evolving role of AI in work and life, from leveling the playing field to its long-term, less egalitarian effects and its use in travel, research, and education.
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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, about Continuous Product Improvement:
- Hands-on Agile 57: Humble Planning with Maarten Dalmijn.
- Hands-on Agile 54: Overcoming Common Product Backlog Management Traps with David Pereira.
- Hands-on Agile 53: An Agile Coaches Guide to Storytelling with Bob Galen.
- 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 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 Continuous Product Improvement — Join the 19,000-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 learn about Continuous Product Improvement by pointing them to the free Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide :