In 10 minutes...

I'm speaking today at Business of Software 2007 in San Jose. I have 10 minutes to make my case and I've spent the weekend editing and pruning and cutting. Assuming I don't get over-excited, I think my speech is only 9 minutes.

Sometimes a deadline or a hard-stop is a good thing. What would you say if you knew you couldn't run long? What features would you omit if you had a hard ship date?

A fundamental idea of Scrum is to see how much development you can do in a two-week period. Get something done, show it to the customer, repeat. Scrum sprints give the team the satisfaction of completion of something--a form of closure--which inspires the team to begin again. Deliver 100% of something rather than 70% of everything. "Do less more often" is so much more satisfying (and successful) than "over commit and under deliver."

Those who have attended Practical Product Management have done positioning in an hour. Granted, it was a case study product so you didn't care too much but... what if you only had an hour to do positioning for your product? Could you do it? And would the result be any worse than the document you and your team agonized over the course of that all-day off-site you ran? Maybe the one-hour version is just as good.

Arbitrary deadlines can be weapons: dates that are imposed from above result in schedules that no one believes. But more often, deadlines are a good thing. They force us to choose; they challenge us to focus. They give us a marker for completion. They introduce an artificial but no-less-real terminus. What can we do in one hour? What can we finish in two weeks? How much can we accomplish in the allocated time?

What would you say if you only had 10 minutes to do it?

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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