Going Agile? Consider This

My friend Stacey shared this: Induction_Machine_Picture Companies are like machines. Each department plays their part, and together the thing somehow works. People within one department don’t always have to understand the entire operation – Sales people, for instance, are not required to understand how coding actually happens. Certain organizational changes happen, and force the departments to understand a bit more about the machine. For instance – if Sales people are asked to begin selling a product that is delivered as an API, they’re probably going to have to learn something about coding (even if it’s just enough to explain the benefits of their solution). Usually, Development can make adjustments to their process without needing the support or understanding of other departments. They change the process for controlling source code – but no one else has to deal with that, so it’s an isolated change within their department. Or, they go from manual testing to automation. Again, no one else needs to understand that change (as long as quality is positively impacted). In most companies, changing to agile is not isolated. When the process for receiving requirements and estimating work changes, lots of areas in the company are impacted and must be brought on board. Basically, this change can cause stress in other parts of the company. If Product Management was having a hard time keeping up before, the change to agile will highlight that weakness, and sometimes stretch our process so far that it actually breaks. If your development team is thinking of going agile, you have to stop and examine your requirements process. Are you ready to live in an agile world? How are you preparing requirements? Do you constantly update the prioritized list of market requirements? Or, do you get to a point where you realize you have to deliver requirements, and quickly scramble your schedule so you have time to write stuff down before the team wants to review? If I asked you to give me your top two requirements tomorrow morning, could you do it? This is what Product Managers have to be prepared for! When your team goes agile, you have to constantly maintain the prioritized requirements, so you can give development more work at any time. An agile team is going to ask for requirements more frequently, since they’re organizing their work into short sprints rather than a long waterfall release cycle. If you are constantly seeking market input, and organizing that input into a prioritized list of market requirements, you should be able to handle the transition fairly easily. If your developers are transitioning to agile, take a look at your machine. Oil as needed, so that your team is enabled to succeed in an agile world.
Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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