Recently, I have been given a task to visualize a successful implementation of Scrum with a special emphasis on Product Organization within the company. It was a part of a larger interview process for an Agile Coach role. Here is what I came up with:
Two tracks to rule your company
There are two tracks on which your company rides. The metaphor here is that it is a train with a magnetic drive (we are in XXI century and build products with modern technology, right?). However, should one track fail it will come to a complete halt. It is rather obvious that failing at Product Delivery Track will stop the progress at your company, be it measured in money earned or innovations that it brings to the market. For many (unfortunately) it is not so obvious with the Product Discovery Track.
Quick Intro to Newtonian Physics
You probably think now:
- Err... Am I on the wrong blog?
Not really, please bear with me for a few more minutes, I will explain everything.
Speed is the rate at which an object covers a specified distance. Since it is a scalar quantity, the direction is not necessary.
Velocity is rate at which an object changes its position. It measures not only how fast the object is but also takes direction into consideration plus initial and final position hence it is a vector quantity.
Imagine a hamster is running fast on a circular path (wanted to sound more scientific and not say hamster wheel). After a sprint (pun intended) his or her position does not change.
VELOCITY = 0
Imagine guinea pigs are running fast on a straight path and arrive at a box with water and food. That's an achievement.
VELOCITY = 0.5 meter/s FORWARD
Scrum Guide has introduced Velocity for a reason. You might be fast, but if you are moving in a wrong direction, this will not help you. If you build the wrong product, then it is like your modern, extremely fast train on a magnetic cushion is going backwards or in hamster wheel. No animals were hurt during any of these thought experiments.
Product Discovery Track
This is a track, which not many companies pursue. Not that this is difficult, but there is lack of the product mindset or maybe the money pump from Venture Capital funds makes people think less and less in those categories... because hey it's others people money, lets take round A, round B and so on.
If you are doing it right, it basically means you are peforming a lot of (10s - 100s) small, cheap experiments and lots of them actually will fail (approx. 70%). Those successful will feed then your product backlog on Product Delivery Track. Those experiments might be designed in a different form: Design Thinking workshops, Design Sprints, A/B Testing, Interviews with Users, creating high-fidelity prototypes and gathering feedback etc. I will cover Design Sprints in my next blog post, so that you can get a glimpse of what it is like.
Product Discovery Team
I hear your thoughts:
- Hamsters, guinea pigs, newtonian physics, what now??? A Product Discovery Team? Does not ring a bell...
This is a team that includes Software Developers, Quality Engineers, UXs, Designers and any other domain specialists, who are needed to design experiments on the Product Discovery Track, know what's possible and feasible, have the ideas and express them freely, and last but not least: who love the users and experimentation. The team is being led by Product Manager with an intersection of three knowledge areas: Business, User Experience and Technology, who is able to make trade-offs and steer the product into greatness.