BONUS: Collaboration between Product Owners and Developers with the Digital Product School

Every 4 months, about 8 teams comprised of University students, other students, and partner-company employees start working on a new product idea at the Digital Product School (DPS).

These teams become their own mini-startups, and work to develop, and sell their products in a 3-month accelerated program. They experience hands-on what it is to work in a start-up and to go from a fuzzy idea (the problem space) to a product they can sell in a very short period of time. 

This learn-by-doing program helps companies educate their employees in rapid product development methods, and helps students get hands-on experience with product development in a very short period of time. 

The most common problems teams face in DPS

The teams that join and complete DPS usually have the same problems all other teams face, but because of the accelerated time-frame, and because the DPS team has seen more than 10 batches already, the problems are obvious! And we can learn a lot from those problems when it comes to the more normal product development we participate in. 

The first challenge teams face is that they have a hard time locking down the problem they want to solve. As it happens, they want to solve too many problems, which is a common affliction of many teams and leads to confused and confusing products. 

The DPS team expected that it would be hard to convince developers to work with users and do user research. However, it turns out developers actually embrace that work, and the biggest problem is getting the Product Managers (PMs) to make decisions. PMs tend to expect that the “process” will ensure they have a good outcome, and that leads to having a hard time making decisions. 

In this segment, we talk about how to help PMs make decisions and the transformation that happens when PMs are faced with the need to make decisions. 

The biggest problem in the Developer-PM collaboration

In such an accelerated program (3 months from idea to product), it is natural that the pressure is high at some point. PM’s work needs to include facilitating and motivating the teamwork. Why are we doing certain decisions? What’s the goal of a certain user test? And many more questions come up during the work. 

This brings one of the biggest problems in the Developer-PM collaboration: the motivation of the team when under pressure. In this segment, we also talk about the most common anti-patterns developers and PMs fall into when under pressure. There are also some great insights for Scrum Masters about team building and coping with pressure!

Enabling good Developer-PM collaboration

One of the usual sticking points in the Developer-PM collaboration is the fact that these people speak different languages. Many Scrum Masters also experience that when they see PMs and developers fight about estimations, for example. 

At DPS, special attention is put into helping PMs understand what developers do and vice-versa. From explaining and using tools that developers use, to helping developers understand Story Maps and other PM tools, the way the DPS team helps developers and PM’s collaborate is especially about helping each other and learning each other’s job and responsibilities.

Why Product Manager and not Product Owner?

At DPS, the team decided early on to call the role of the product person the Product Manager, and not the Product Owner. Why did they do that? 

In this segment, we explore a question that most companies adopting Scrum will need to struggle with: what to call the product roles. 

The DPS team shares how the idea of “product” is owned by the whole team, and that the product manager role is much more than looking at the backlog or defining priorities, it’s about being responsible for user experience, business, and technology!

This emphasizes the idea of the DPS program: product development is a team sport! 

Resources for rapid product development

At the end of the episode, we talk about what resources DPS suggests teams to study, and we list the following books: 

About Digital Product School

DPS is an accelerated product development program in Munich that helps students from University and employees in partner companies experience hands-on what it is to work in a startup. In 3 months they go from idea to a product, and some ideas are brought back to the companies for further development. 

About the DPS team

Michi / Michael Stockerl is director of DPS and has worked as a software engineer with several teams in different setups. Before that, he gathered experience in smaller Startups in Munich and Germany’s biggest Q&A platform.

 

Steffen is a trained journalist, who slipped into product management through Content Management and e-commerce. He worked with Amazon and Haymarket media, did several hundred user interviews and tests, witnessed dozens of teams at DPS, a Digital Product School of the Technical University of Munich in Germany.

Bela is a Software Engineer at DPS. She helps teams with various software and hardware engineering tasks. She was previously also a participant at DPS. 

BONUS: Incremental Delivery in Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Warehouse projects with Raphael Branger

Raphael has been a guest on our regular show, and in those episodes, we approached the topic of Agile applied to Business Intelligence projects. In this episode, we dive deeper into the concepts and ideas that Raphael mentioned earlier, and we learn how Business Intelligence projects can be delivered incrementally, and in an agile manner. 

Slicing User Stories to enable incremental delivery

We start this episode with a practice that is critical for Agile teams: how to slice User Stories to enable the delivery of incremental value to customers. We discuss several strategies that Raphael uses to be able to deliver valuable functionality even in the first week of a project. 

Taking into account that usually, BI projects are executed by larger, and more traditional firms, his approach brings clarity and ensures that the team and the customer are able to evaluate the product from the first week. This practice is critical in collecting feedback from customers early on and avoiding producing products (dashboards, in this case) that no one will use. 

In this segment, we refer to a blog post by Raphael where he describes his User Story slicing approach in more detail.

#NoEstimates in BI projects

One of the inspirations for Raphael’s work on slicing User Stories was the #NoEstimates book and a few conversations that he and Vasco Duarte had in the early stages of Agile adoption at IT-LOGIX, Raphael’s company.

In Raphael’s perspective, the focus should shift from “sizing” stories to understanding what might be a good experience for the customer: customer delight; and then validating those assumptions directly with customers by delivering possible solutions very early on. 

As a way to apply #NoEstimates, Raphael started to apply the concept of “timebox” (limited time) to each of the User Stories being developed. His own rule is that a User Story should be developed within 1 or 2 days at the most, which pushes the teams to focus on what is critical to provide value to the customer. 

Timeboxing User Stories to validate assumptions

In this episode, we also explore how Raphael came to the realization that User Stories need to be timeboxed, rather than estimated. He shares a story of a project where the team produced a dashboard that did not get used by the customer (they had metrics). That was a transformative point in Raphael’s approach, leading him to focus on early and often delivery. Which led to the #NoEstimates heuristic that a User Story should be given a timebox. 

In this segment, we refer to the episode about a team that Runtastic that is using #NoEstimates, and how that has helped the team focus, and provide value faster. 

About Raphael Branger

Raphael Branger is a Certified Disciplined Agile Practitioner and a pioneer in adapting agile methods in the context of data and analytics projects. He works as a Principal Consultant Data & Analytics at IT-Logix in Switzerland with more than seventeen years of experience in business intelligence and data warehousing.

You can link with Raphael Branger on LinkedIn and connect with Raphael Branger on Twitter

 

BONUS: The top 3 challenges to better retrospectives with David Horowitz

In this episode, we interview David Horowitz who’s the CEO of Retrium, a company that builds tools to help you facilitate remote retrospectives. The links to Retrium’s Retrospectives Academy below are affiliate links, if you prefer to follow a link that takes you to Retrium’s site, but does not give anything back to the podcast, you can. Just follow this link: Retrium.com. On the other hand, if you want to help us grow this podcast, you can follow the links below or this link to Retrium’s Retrospective’s Academy.

As David started his Scrum Master journey, he was faced with a big challenge. He struggled with remote retrospectives. No wonder, he ended up creating and being the CEO for a remote retrospectives company. He experienced the pain first-hand! 

As he got started experimenting, he found the Lean Coffee format to be effective (see our Lean Coffee episodes). However, he found that even when the format worked well, there was something else missing. 

The collaboration that can be had when the team is in the same room simply isn’t the same when we are all remote, and sometimes even without video! 

Solving remote retrospectives, one tool at a time

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BONUS: #NoEstimates in practice, interview with the Runtastic app team

In this episode, we interview Andre, Fabian and Aleksandar, team members at one of the Runtastic App teams. At the time of recording, they had 5 months of experience with #NoEstimates at the team level, and that led us to explore how they applied #NoEstimates; what prompted them to change their way of working; and many other practical questions related to the use of #NoEstimates approaches in their product development work.

The path to #NoEstimates

Continue reading BONUS: #NoEstimates in practice, interview with the Runtastic app team

BONUS: The Agile Wire hosts interview Vasco Duarte on #NoEstimates – Jeff Maleski & Jeff Bubolz

This is a BONUS episode on the topic of #NoEstimates. The Agile Wire podcast hosts Jeff Bubolz and Jeff Maleski interview Vasco Duarte.

Some of you might have heard about #NoEstimates, and want to know more, and for others, it might be the first time you hear about it. Either way, in this episode we talk about the origins of #NoEstimates and why you may want to consider it when helping your teams. 

This is a shared episode with a fellow Agile podcast The Agile Wire, where hosts Jeff Maleski and Jeff Bubolz interview Agile practitioners. Both Jeff Maleski and Jeff Bubolz have been guests here on the Scrum Master Toolbox podcast.

About Jeff Bubolz and Jeff Maleski

Jeff Bubolz is a speaker, trainer, and agile coach. He has been a Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development Team member. Jeff has worked with enterprise companies to small start-ups. His goal is to end human suffering in organizations, by nudging people to be the change they want to see in the world.

You can link with Jeff Bubolz on LinkedIn and connect with Jeff Bubolz on Twitter.

Jeff Maleski is passionate about working with and building up both individuals and teams using ideas from Jurgen Appelo’s Management 3.0 and Dan Pink’s Drive. When leading project teams, Jeff strives for empirical based planning and forecasting, continuous learning, and delivering high quality software products that exceed expectations. Jeff believes in leading by actions and focusing on building relationships with others.

You can link with Jeff Maleski on LinkedIn.

BONUS: Achieving sustainable pace with Cosima Laube

As Cosima started her Scrum Master journey, she decided to invest and study psychology. That would open up new ways to look at her work in the role of the Scrum Master. The search for a more science-based approach to her work led her to study psychology, which later helped her understand that she couldn’t be a developer and a Scrum Master anymore. 

Remote teams, and quick tips for facilitating #Remote Lean Coffee

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BONUS: Boosting collaboration with an Internal Unconference, Gene Connolly and Jeff Campbell

Collaboration is one of the key aspects of focus for Scrum Masters. We are, and should always be on the lookout for way to improve collaboration in our teams, and across teams and departments. In this episode, we dive into a specific Actionable Agile Tool that aims to boost collaboration: The Internal Unconference. Gene and Jeff share their own experience organizing Internal Unconferences, and why this even may be exactly what you need to improve collaboration in your organization.

Discovering how to improve collaboration across departments

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SUPER SPECIAL: LIVE Q&A with Lisette Sutherland, #Remote meetings don’t need to suck!

#Remote meetings have been a topic that affects Agile teams for a long time. As many more teams go #Remote without previous experience, they become an even bigger topic for Scrum Masters who now need to facilitate online meetings almost every day.

In this episode, Lisette Sutherland (creator of the Work Together Anywhere Workshop) joins us to share her insights on how to make those remote meetings rock!

When going #Remote, it is harder to get the life/work balance right

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SUPER SPECIAL: LIVE Q&A on #Remote work with Katja Zorina

Katja is an Agile Coach in an organization that had to organize a distributed/#Remote Big Room Planning session in less than 24 hours! Listen in to learn how they pulled it off.

One of the key learnings from that effort was that a #Remote event will take a longer time (maybe 3-4 days) than a locally organize Big Room planning event. But there are many more insights that Katja shares on this LIVE Q&A

What have been the biggest challenges for you and for the teams that you support?

Continue reading SUPER SPECIAL: LIVE Q&A on #Remote work with Katja Zorina

SUPER SPECIAL: LIVE Q&A with Molood Ceccarelli on #Remote work

Molood joins us in the special LIVE Q&A episode to talk about Distributed Agile software development and many tools, tips, tricks, and techniques for teams that just recently moved to a #Remote-first work setting.

The POWER framework for successful #Remote meetings

Continue reading SUPER SPECIAL: LIVE Q&A with Molood Ceccarelli on #Remote work