Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself?
30 year product management veteran of Silicon Valley software companies, including 6 startups. I coach product leaders at commercial software companies, and sometimes parachute into companies as interim/temporary Head of Product.
Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic?
Critical need for product managers/product owners to directly validate their problem statements and requirements. Everywhere I go worldwide, I see teams building products or features that fail in the marketplace, because they didn’t do enough direct interviewing/validation/analysis with actual end users — before starting the development cycle. Huge waste as teams try to dig out of poor assumptions and bad information from proxies.
Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session?
Separate productivity improvements of agile (build things well, often faster) from lean validation/customer discovery work (deeply understand user/customer needs, then build the right thing). Most agile discussions assume (incorrectly) that we are building the right things, with the right priorities, and have a plan to measure outcomes.
Q: Can you give some advice to teams/organisations that are transitioning to agile?
Keep a focus on real end user value (do they use our products? how do they measure value? how do we know we are building the right things?) as well as process improvements (quality, velocity, estimation, retrospectives).
Q: How do you see the evolution of agile in the future?
Every team I meet (anywhere in the world) tells me that they are “agile.” On inspection, this is usually just a standup or Jira backlog or release cadence… missing all of the goodness of self-managing teams and evolving processes to meet that team’s needs. Evolution for me is moving away from a tools focus, toward an outcomes/value focus.
Q: You have given many interviews/presentations about agile. Is there a question you wish to have been asked but no one ever asked you?
“How do we get our development teams more directly involved in learning from/interacting with actual users? How can we get our teams out of the office, to see our work being used in the real world?”