Author Archives: Aaron Sanders

Updates from the home office

tl;dr Let me know your interest in testing activities or participating in a virtual lean coffee with this two question poll. Hope you’re OK My guess is that there’s a fairly good chance you’re reading this from your home. Wherever you are I hope you’re OK and getting the support needed to get through this. It’s been one week of elective self-isolation down and one to go with hands raw from the frequent washing and bleach wiping of being on the road for me. Adjusting to working on-line With the ability to work virtually (read more about that here) the … Continue reading

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Planning for product success

There is no recipe for product success, but these things might help. Be clear in the objectives and priorities. Keep the portfolio’s performance balanced. Continuously research and clear out unknowns. Keep shipping and monitoring production. Adapt the plan along the way. And if possible- have fun! Continue reading

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It’s MAD to Build everything that goes through discovery

People nod heads with a knowing look when someone informs them that less than 50% of ideas make it to market.  That may even seem generous. Companies practicing continuous product discovery collect data on the impact and unofficially report numbers far lower than 50%. These companies test multiple ideas weekly and most are not pursued.

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It’s MAD to Use Discovery to Justify the Solution

Have you ever had an executive, a board member, or some other high-ranking person tell you what to build? How were you able to stand up to them? And keep your job? Decreeing the solution happens with such regularity that my Product Owner course is designed to mimic the situation.

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It’s MAD to Put All Work Through Discovery

I was sitting with a team when their manager came in and asked, “Hey. Are you guys finished with this feature?” The Scrum Master responded, “We haven’t even had time to even begin the discovery on it yet.” The manager looked surprised and said, “Oh, OK. Would you let me know when I can see it?” and walked out. It really surprised me as the feature seemed trivial and so I asked, “What do you need to learn about this? It seems really straight-forward.” “You’re right.” he said, “We could just build this. But we don’t want to.”

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Evaluate Process Qualities, not Process Compliance

Many people are familiar with process evaluation like The Nokia Test. There are also mash-ups of popular assessments, and I like The Borland Agile Assessment about the best, because it focuses on qualities (We work in an environment of trust and respect), rather than compliance (Single Product Backlog). Jeff Patton wrote an article, Performing a Simple Process Health Checkup that is based upon properties taken from Alistair Cockburn’s book Crystal Clear.  The following is a modified version that a client and I put together for their context. 

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It’s MAD to Have a Separate Discovery Phase

Here we are with another Misadventure in Agile Discovery (MAD). This one pairs well with the first misadventure, the separate discovery team. Even when that mistake is corrected and a balanced team is working together through discovery and delivery, the team may decide to spend some time furiously creating a slew of new ideas.

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It’s MAD to Have a Separate Discovery Team

Diving deeper into the first item on the list of Misadventures of Agile Discovery (MAD), let’s look into the problem of having a separate discovery team. Let me start with a couple of stories.

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Misadventures in Agile Discovery: Top Ten Common Mistakes

I’m going to admit something to you as an Agile coach. Clients that I work with make mistakes, and I can’t prevent them all. I don’t even try to.

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Consequences of Thinking, Fast and Slow on Teaching

Here’s another post in the series of how the book Thinking, Fast and Slow has made an impact on me. This time, I’d like to concentrate on the consequences I see for teaching classes. For starters, I’m glad to see that the book compliments the things I learned from Sharon Bowman’s Training from the Back of the Room, as well as from Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick.

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