Please hang in there with me as I experiment on the format of Weekend Reading. A little quip after a link in a bulleted list just isn’t enough, so I’ll try and actually say something of value to go along with the source material that’s clearly influencing my thinking.
The John Cutler Section
There probably won’t be a week that goes by that I won’t link to at least one piece of work from John. So, get used to it. I know I have.
We start with a piece at Hackernoon, Start Together. Finish Together, and it’s a quick take down of what I like to think of as the infinite backlog. With few exceptions, you’ll always work in a place where the ideas will always outpace the ability to execute on these ideas. This leads right us smack dab into prioritization strategies (which we’ll get to in a bit) and generally making a few people happy and a lot of people grumpy since their ideas didn’t get “done”.
It’s bad to overload your backlog with this kind of work (In the Getting Things Done framework, this would be the “someday maybe” items) because while it sits in the backlog your business will change, your customers will change, and how you think about the idea/problem will change. If somebody picks up a piece of work six months later, how likely is it that it’s still relevant (hint: not very likely).
Instead, as John suggests, we need to make sure we all understand what we’re working, why we’re working on it, what will the outcomes be, and how will we measure them.
John also posted another piece with a headline that is dangerously close to click bait, We Need Fewer Product Managers. The real message that I took away, and it’s something I’ve been trying to make clear in my own organization, is that your org chart box title doesn’t map 1:1 to a role you play on a cross-functional product team. He has some good words of warning about making your product organization structure too rigid. We would all be wise to heed these words.
Finally, over at Git Prime we have We Are What We Celebrate. There are five great points about what and how we celebrate, but I want to make sure I put emphasis on celebrating leaning. Agile is all about continuous improvement and acting on your learnings is how you do that. So let’s celebrate it.
Oh, one last thing, he did episode 1 of the new Product Warrior podcast.
Sense & Respond: The Farm Awakens
I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop that Jeff and Josh helped lead and I can’t recommend them highly enough. You get this one for free as they did a keynote talk at mind the Product conference.
- You are in the software business
- Software unlocks new business models
- Software enforces policy
- Culture trumps (little ’t’) policy
- Feedback loops reveal culture
- Frame success in user-centric terms
The Other Links
- Meetings That Don’t Suck - Break free from the tyranny of the conference room A pretty simple list of things you should consider when creating meetings.
- Stop Using Story Points *Like so many other parts of Agile, story points seem to eventually get used to over-optimize for velocity. Software development is an uncertain medium, stop pretending it isn’t.*
- User Stories: Bin, Thin, or Split? Some handy tips for dealing with user stories.
- Why you should stop using product roadmaps and try GIST Planning “It’s tempting to pick a promising idea, turn it into a 9–18 month project and start executing.” No, no it’s not.
- Why Impact/Effort Prioritization Doesn’t Work “First you should come to grips with the fact that 60–90% of the projects in your product backlog are not worth doing — they’re just not going to yield any meaningful results and/or are going cost more than you want to pay. “ A very interesting modification to the Impact/Effort prioritization scheme.
- Humans suck at planning It’s in Wikipedia so it must be true.