How to help the PO be involved with the Scrum team, even if the PO does not have time

The Product Owner (PO) is a tough role to fill. Product Owners are torn between users, senior management, team and other stakeholders that they need to attend to.
While the team is working on completing the backlog items, the PO is probably meeting with the Director of Product to agree on a roadmap; with the CEO to hear about the latest ideas he got from visiting a client; trying to meet with the user research group to understand better the customer; reporting status to the head of Project Management; and still needs to visit the Sprint Planning, Backlog Grooming, Demo and the occasional daily meeting to answer questions from the team. And let’s not forget the email backlog!
With all of these tasks one has to ask: do we believe a single person can do this all alone? What I describe here is not even rare! We seem to collectively think that the Product Owner is a super-hero!


Given all of these tasks, it is little wonder that the PO’s end up struggling to even manage the JIRA tickets the teams ask them to review, give feedback on, and prioritize.

The feeling of overwhelm is common in Product Owners. They ask themselves if they are spending their time on the right things. Wouldn’t you, if you got constantly interrupted by questions and requests from others? How do we solve this, increase collaboration between Team and Product Owner, and improve our work place at the same time? Read on for more…
Continue reading How to help the PO be involved with the Scrum team, even if the PO does not have time

BONUS: Barry O’Reilly on What is Hypothesis-driven Development, and why that matters for Agilists

EXTRA BONUS: to get 30% off Barry’s Hypothesis-Driven Development course you can go to www.leanagile.study  and use discount code THIRTYCPOFF before the end of December 2017.

Far too many companies act as if Product Development was a shopping trip: they get a list of things to “buy”, typically Features. Then they create documents explaining that shopping list: Roadmaps, Backlogs, PowerPoint presentations, Post-its on walls, you name it. And then they execute. Here’s the thing: if you act as if Product Development is a shopping trip all you will do is spend a lot of money and get lots of Features you don’t really need.

Barry suggests we treat Product Development differently. He calls it Hypothesis-Driven Development (HDD for short) and includes:

  1. Leadership set an outcome (not a task!) Example: how to increase conversion by 10%
  2. Look for observations: where you try to understand what is happening in the product and to the product you develop.
  3. Set a hypothesis to validate ideas: where you make assumptions and write those down as assumptions. Assumptions should be about how to reach the goal set in step 1.
  4. Create simple experiments: actions that drive results, which you will compare with the hypothesis you created in 3.
  5. Gather the data, learn and repeat: the core process is LEARNING. Therefore, spend enough time on this step so that you generate new observations, insights. Then repeat the cycle.

A fundamental shift in product development

Barry claims that HDD is a fundamental shift in product development. The shift is from doing many things, many small changes, and switches to focusing on outcomes, on results to the business. This means that leadership is no longer accountable for the work, but for the outcomes. And this frees the teams to focus on self-organizing to reach those outcomes, instead of following a list of things that others have dictated.

We go from investing in work to investing in learning. We might use Innovation Accounting, à lá #LeanStartup, or focus on creating Options and benefit from the concept of Optionality popularized by Nassim Taleb in his famous Black Swan book, but also referred to in Commitment, the book by Agile Coaches Chris Matts and Olav Maassen. This different focus will completely change your product development process to maximize the information generated and help you find new avenues for growth in your product.

We don’t do Projects anymore, we run Experiments!

As a result of the shift towards HDD, we stop focusing on big-bang, all-in projects and focus on running smaller experiments that drive the learning that will eventually generate the outcomes we defined. As Barry says in this episode: we go from 1 to 2 experiments per year (projects) to testing many more ideas every month.

But you can’t run that many experiments with the same approach to funding, and management that you used when you ran projects. So we focus on a different management paradigm that Barry explains further. The goal: learn and adapt faster, not produce more features.

As part of that, we need to get familiar with the concept of safe-to-fail experiments that can reliably generate knowledge without causing chaos or confusion in our product development process.

And it all starts with a simple change in product development: define the problem you are trying to fix, not the solution you are trying to create.

If I want to know more about the Hypothesis-Driven Development approach, where should I start?

 

If you want to generate options you may try Teresa Torres ‘Opportunity Tree’ which is a great tool for generating experiment options to test hypotheses https://www.producttalk.org/2016/08/opportunity-solution-tree/

 

About Barry O’Reilly

Barry O’Reilly is a business advisor, entrepreneur, and author who has pioneered the intersection of business model innovation, product development, organizational design, and culture transformation.

Barry works with business leaders and teams from global organizations that seek to invent the future, not fear it. Every day, Barry works with many of the world’s leading companies to break the vicious cycles that spiral businesses toward death by enabling experimentation and learning to unlock the insights required for better decision making and higher performance and results.

Barry is the co-author of the international bestseller Lean Enterprise: How High-Performance Organizations Innovate at Scale—included in the Eric Ries Lean series, and a Harvard Business Review must-read for CEOs and business leaders.

You can link with Barry O’Reilly on LinkedIn and connect with Barry O’Reilly on Twitter.

You can also contact Barry O’Reilly through his site, and sign up for his newsletter to get the latest news about Hypothesis-Driven Development.

EXTRA BONUS: to get 30% off Barry’s course you can go to www.leanagile.study  and use discount code THIRTYCPOFF before the end of December.

20 TOP Agile Blogs for Scrum Masters that you will not (easily) find on google searches (2017 edition)

Click to learn more about how you can help your PO

Before reading the post, I wanted to share with you a great interview about how we, as Scrum Masters are always starting from Scratch (just like new year! 🙂 Here’s a Podcast episode as a new year gift from the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast archive built over the last 3 years interviewing Scrum Masters from all over the world.

Podcast Topic: We start a new with every team  (interview with Lucian Stroie)

Now for the list! 🙂

Here in the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast, we share insights and inspiring stories from Scrum Masters every day of the week because we believe we need inspiration and ideas every day. Therefore we also visit sites and blogs for the same reasons. To end the year with a bang, I wanted to create a list of Top blogs / Sites for Scrum Masters. Was I in for a disappointment… read on to know why…

Continue reading 20 TOP Agile Blogs for Scrum Masters that you will not (easily) find on google searches (2017 edition)

Product Owner Anti-Patterns, and how Scrum Masters can help overcome those

Product Owners have an impossible job! I know, I’ve been a Product Owner. And even worse, a Product Manager transitioning to Product Owner! And even worse! I was also the Project Manager. Geeez! When I look back I am amazed I survived that phase of my career.

Here’s the kicker, that was the best time of my Agile adoption journey. I got to see my ideas come to life so quickly! And have a concrete business impact (the product we delivered went on to generate 10 Million Eur in sales a little over 3 years).

My Product Owner journey towards Agile was not easy! Let me tell you how I survived that stressful time, and lived on to learn a lot from the experience.

Continue reading Product Owner Anti-Patterns, and how Scrum Masters can help overcome those

Ruben Betancourt on how slicing Epics into smaller deliverables can increase your chance of success

It’s hard enough to deliver a small increment of a product, yet we often find ourselves and our teams in positions where they need to deliver a whole product, project or release in 1 go. No change for mistake. And you know what happens: when failure is not an option, failure is the only option!

About Ruben Betancourt
Ruben Betancourt is a computer systems engineer with experience in project management. Currently in love with agile software development methodologies.
You can link with Ruben Betancourt on LinkedIn and connect with Ruben Betancourt on Twitter.

Heidi Helfand on the need to help teams change: Reteaming

We’ve often heard that teams should be long lived and stable. But what if the advantages or reteaming would be much larger than the disadvantages of changing team composition? In this episode we explore the topic of Reteaming and what Heidi has been developing and discovering that helps teams thrive when they change.

About Heidi Helfand

Heidi’s been in the software industry for 17 years and has a masters in teaching English. She has been a part of two successful startups. She was on the initial team that invented gotomeeting and gotowebinar at the first startup. She is currently Principal Agile Coach at AppFolio, Inc. where they create software for property management companies and law firms. She started there in 2007 hired as a Scrum Master – trained by Ken Schwaber and with Pivotal Labs for more than a year. She became a co-active coach along the way and is certified by the International Coach Federation and the Coaches Training Institute. She is currently writing and speaking about Reteaming – that is, how its valid and desirable to have changing teams as opposed to long running, unchanging teams.
You can link with Heidi Helfand on Linkedin, or connect with Heidi Helfand on Twitter.
You can also follow Heidi’s blog at: http://www.heidihelfand.com/writing/.

Jiri Sitina on how retrospectives can save teams from self-destruction

Retrospectives are one of the key ceremonies for teams. Well prepared and executed retrospectives can take a team from ordinary to extraordinary and can help teams avoid the anti-patterns that so often lead to difficult problems down the line.
One of the resources that Jiri uses when preparing his retrospectives is Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives.

About Jiri Sitina

Jiri works at GoodData. He is currently based in Prague and helps GoodData’s engineering teams to work better, cooperate more, keep on improving and enjoy what they are doing.
You can connect with Jiri Sitina on LinkedIn and link with Jiri Sitina on Twitter.

Jiri Sitina on how critical the Product Owner role really is

The Product Owner role can enable to make the work of the team very difficult. In this episode Jiri talks about how important the Product Owner role really is and how to help teams align. We also talk about aligning remote teams discussing some of the techniques that Jiri uses to have remote teams collaborate effectively.

About Jiri Sitina

Jiri works at GoodData. He is currently based in Prague and helps GoodData’s engineering teams to work better, cooperate more, keep on improving and enjoy what they are doing.
You can connect with Jiri Sitina on LinkedIn and link with Jiri Sitina on Twitter.

Angel Diaz-Maroto on empathy and the critical role of the Product Owner

Scrum has a foundational story that many of us know. The Pig and the Chicken story. Through that story we learn that in Scrum there are “insiders” (the Pigs, who are committed), and outsiders (the Chickens, who are merely involved). The role of the Product Owner is often looked at as a “chicken”, however Angel relates a different perspective. He talks about the critical role of the Product Owner in a Scrum team as well as the approach he used to bring the Product Owner role back into the team.

About Angel Diaz-Maroto

Angel is a seasoned and very energetic Agile coach and a frequent speaker at international conferences and Agile events in Europe and America. He is Certified Scrum Coach. Currently he is member of Agilar, one of the leading Agile coaching firms in Europe and Latin-America.
He is now at Agilar, but before he was the leader at one of the biggest Agile transformations in europe, including business and IT at the Spanish branch of a multinational bank (ING). He lead the transformation from the trenches and starting from scratch. He as more than 15 years of experience in many different roles and is a professor at ESNE (University School of design, innovation & technology).
You can link up with Angel Diaz-Maroto on LinkedIn and connect with Angel Diaz-Maroto on Twitter.

Niko Kortelainen on how to get to sustainable pace

There are many pressures on the development teams, especially when the business has clear needs, and short term deadlines. Niko explains how they were able to achieve sustainable pace despite all the pressures to deliver more.

About Niko Kortelainen

Niko Kortelainen is a Scrum Master at Digia, which among other things commercializes the cross-platform Open Source framework Qt. In his journey he discovered that the most challenging problems in software industry are not technical problems and ever since then, he has been focusing on how to make everyday work more fun.
You can link up with Niko Kortelainen on LinkedIn and connect with Niko Kortelainen on Twitter.
You can read Niko Kortelainen blog, where he wrote about his experience with adopting Scrum.