Control!

The product owner (PO) role is incredibly important in any Agile effort. The product owner leads, manages and prioritizes the backlog and networks with stakeholders, customers, and developers of all stripes.  All sorts of problems can beset the role. However, most of those problems are either self-inflicted or a result of poor organizational design.  A laundry list of problems based on observation and responses from other product owners include:

  1. Product Owners Are From IT
  2. Product Owners Are Not Part of The Team
  3. Having a Project versus Product Orientation
  4. Overly Broad and/or Ill-Defined Product Owner Role
  5. Using Proxy Product Owners
  6. Adopting Technical and Business Product Owners
  7. Allowing Part-time Product Owners
  8. Failure of Product Owner to Lead
  9. Product Owner with Controlling Personality

The next set of difficulties are: (more…)

Accept no substitute.

The product owner (PO) role even when performed as described straight out of the book is difficult.  The role is often even more difficult than it needs to be, with information asymmetries between the PO, the team and stakeholders ranging to ill-defined roles. I asked over fifty product owners about why they thought the role was hard to augment my perception. I have scattered excerpts from their responses throughout the essay.  Based on observation and responses the most common reasons the role is difficult are: (more…)

Listen Now
Subscribe on iTunes
Check out the podcast on Google Play Music

The Software Process and Measurement Cast 441 features our interview with John Le Drew.  John and I discussed the concept of safety at work, and how safety, or the lack of it, affects the effectiveness of software teams.

John’s bio . . .

In almost 2 decades working in software engineering, John Le Drew has worked as a software engineer, team lead, project manager, product owner, trainer, agile coach, and consultant. Working with clients ranging from small start-ups to multinationals.

Through Wise Noodles he has helped organizations solve tough technical problems by untangling their people problems. John hosts The Agile Path Podcast; producing in-depth audio documentaries on the topics that most affect organizations transitioning to agile ways of working.

The manifesto for agile software development and the principles behind it is central to how John approaches software and value development. Working with organizations to help them learn to apply the principles has become a passion. There is nothing more exciting to John than seeing a team surprise themselves with potential they did not realize they had. Contact John via email at john@wisenoodles.com. (more…)

Doing the Product Owner Role Poorly is Like Drowning!

The product owner role is evolving in most organizations. The role has its roots in the roles of product managers, project managers, business subject matter experts (SME) and project sponsors from other methods.  The roles and the responsibilities of the role are critical in any Agile approach to delivering value. The product owner role is difficult, and perhaps consistently more difficult than any other role in software delivery.  The reasons the role is difficult can be traced to several solvable scenarios. The most common reasons are: (more…)

Listen Now
Subscribe on iTunes
Check out the podcast on Google Play MusicListen Now

The Software Process and Measurement Cast 439 features Alex Yakyma.  Our discussion focused on the industry’s broken mindset that prevents it from being Lean and Agile.  A powerful and a possibly controversial interview.

Alex’s Bio

Alex Yakyma brings unique, extensive, and field-based experience to the topic of implementing Lean and Agile at scale. Throughout his career, he has served as an engineering and program manager in multi-cultural, highly-distributed environments. As a methodologist, trainer and consultant, he has led numerous rollouts of Lean and Agile at scale, involving teams in North America, Europe and Asia, and has trained over a thousand coaches and change agents whose key role is to help their organizations achieve higher productivity and quality through the adoption of scalable, agile methods.

Alex is a founder of Org Mindset (http://orgmindset.com), a company whose mission is to help enterprises grow Lean-Agile mentality and build organizational habits in support of exploration and fast delivery of customer value.

Re-Read Saturday News

Chapter 2 of Holacracy tackles why the consolidation of authority is harmful to the ability to nimble, agile (small a), and productive organizations and secondly, why the distribution of authority supports an organization’s ability to scale.  The argument in Chapter 2 is a central tenant of Holacracy.

Visit the Software Process and Measurement Cast blog to participate in this and previous re-reads. (more…)

Listen Now
Subscribe on iTunes
Check out the podcast on Google Play MusicListen Now

The Software Process and Measurement Cast 438 features our essay on leveraging sizing in testing. Size can be a useful tool for budgeting and planning both at the portfolio level and the team level.

Gene Hughson brings his Form Follows Function Blog to the cast this week to discuss his recent blog entry titled, Organizations as Systems and Innovation. One of the highlights of the conversation is whether emergence is a primary factor driving change in a complex system.

Our third column is from the Software Sensei, Kim Pries.  Kim discusses why blindly accepting canned solutions does not negate the need for active troubleshooting of for problems in software development.

Re-Read Saturday News

This week, we tackle chapter 1 of Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World by Brian J. Robertson published by Henry Holt and Company in 2015. Chapter 1 is titled, Evolving Organization.  Holacracy is an approach to address shortcomings that have appeared as organizations evolve. Holacracy is not a silver bullet, but rather provides a stable platform for identifying and addressing problems efficiently.

Visit the Software Process and Measurement Cast blog to participate in this and previous re-reads.

Next SPaMCAST

The next Software Process and Measurement Cast will feature our interview with Alex Yakyma.  Our discussion focused on the industry’s broken mindset that prevents it from being Lean and Agile.  A powerful and possibly controversial interview.

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here. Available in English and Chinese.

Listen Now
Subscribe on iTunes
Check out the podcast on Google Play Music

The Software Process and Measurement Cast 435 features our interview with Allan Kelly.  Our discussion touched on the concepts behind #NoProjects.  Allan describes how the concept of a project leads to a number of unintended consequences.  Those consequences aren’t pretty.

Allan makes digital development teams more effective and improves delivery with continuous agile approaches to reduce delay and risk while increasing value delivered. He helps teams and smaller companies – including start-ups and scale-ups – with advice, coaching and training. Managers, product, and technical staff are all involved in his improvements. He is the originator of Retrospective Dialogue Sheets and Value Poker, the author of four books, including “Xanpan – team-centric Agile Software Development” and “Business Patterns for Software Developers”. On Twitter he is @allankellynet.

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we tackle Chapter 8 of Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (buy your copy and read along).  Chapter 8, titled “Changing Mindsets.” The whole concept of mindsets would be an interesting footnote if we did not believe they could change. Chapter 8 drives home the point that has been made multiple times in the book, that mindsets are malleable with self-awareness and a lot of effort. The question of whether all people want to be that self-aware will be addressed next week as we wrap up our re-read.

We are quickly closing in on the end of our re-read of Mindset.  I anticipate one more week.   The next book in the series will be Holacracy (Buy a copy today). After my recent interview with Jeff Dalton on Software Process and Measurement Cast 433, I realized that I had only read extracts from Holacracy by Brian J. Robertson, therefore we will read (first time for me) the whole book together.

Every week we discuss a chapter then consider the implications of what we have “read” from the point of view of both pursuing an organizational transformation and also using the material when coaching teams.  

Remember to buy a copy of Carol Dweck’s Mindset and start the re-read from the beginning!

Visit the Software Process and Measurement Cast blog to participate in this and previous re-reads.

Next SPaMCAST

The next Software Process and Measurement Cast will feature our essay on incremental change approaches.  We will also have columns from Jeremy Berriault. Jeremy blogs at https://jberria.wordpress.com/  and Jon M Quigley who brings his column, the Alpha and Omega of Product Development, to the Cast. One of the places you can find Jon is at Value Transformation LLC.