Johanna Rothman

Visualize Your Constraints

Johanna Rothman

As I work with people to use agile approaches, I see many organizational constraints. Organizational constraints: Culture, Product/Portfolio, Project. I’ve been trying to find a visualization for what I see. I don’t know if I’ve got it yet, but here is my sum-of-the-parts image.

Feedback and Feedforward for Continuous Improvement Posted

Johanna Rothman

I’m a monthly contributor to the Gurock blog. This month’s article is Feedback & Feedforward for Continuous Improvement : Using Double-Loop Learning Challenges Our Assumptions. Single-loop learning is when you “Plan the work and work the plan.”

Frequent Releasing Can Lead to Short and Frequent Planning

Johanna Rothman

Agile approaches can help a team release more often. When a team releases more often, the product people can replan the product roadmaps. The project portfolio people can replan the project portfolio. Not every team releases often enough to take advantage of replanning small and often.

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How Little Can You Do (& Still be Effective)

Johanna Rothman

Back in Manage It!, I suggested that for requirements, the questions should be, “How little can we do?” ” and still have a great product. My argument was this: the longer the project (regardless of approach), the more risk there is. Can you reduce risk by reducing the requirements? That would allow you to release earlier with less risk. Not to release a bad product. No, to release a smaller product.

A Guide to Designing Delightful Dashboards

Speaker: Daniel O'Sullivan, Product Designer, nCino and Jeff Hudock, Senior Product Manager, nCino

We’ve all seen the increasing industry trend of artificial intelligence and big data analytics. In a world of information overload, it's more important than ever to have a dashboard that provides data that's not only interesting but actually relevant and timely. Dashboards assist decision makers facilitate new ideas and business opportunities, increase customer approval rates, and analyze current business process. All of these activities play a vital role in providing the superior experience your customers demand.

Looking for Stories of Success with Follow-the-Sun

Johanna Rothman

Mark Kilby and I are almost done with the chapter on geographically dispersed teams with no (or very few) hours of overlap in our book about distributed agile teams. We are looking for any example of a team—agile or not—who successfully used/is using Follow the Sun.

The Manager’s Role in an Agile Transformation

Johanna Rothman

Agile transformations are tough. That’s because wherever you start, the agile transformation creates culture clashes. Often, teams start with agile approaches. Teams discover the agile approach and practices that work for that team.

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Resisting Change or Resisting a Pushed Solution

Johanna Rothman

I spoke with an aspiring coach earlier this week. He asked me if people I ever coached were “resistant.” ” I don’t label people as “resistant.” ” If I need to label them, I think about this term, “People with data I should hear.” ” I like to think about what people resist, especially people in technical organizations. We are in the business of changing how other people work and live with our technology. Do we resist change?

Agile Transformation: Possible Organizational Measurements, Part 4

Johanna Rothman

“What should I measure???” ” is one of the questions I see when I work with people going through an agile transformation. Too often, managers measure people as individuals. Traditional measurements focus on resource efficiency instead of flow efficiency.)

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Turning Metrics into Dollars: How to Turn Your Analytics Data into a Real Financial Model for your Startup

Speaker: Tristan Kromer, Lean Agile Coach, Kromatic

Some teams struggle to constantly optimize conversion rates without understanding the financial impact of those conversion rates. Sometimes that 0.1% increase isn't worth the engineering time we're spending! Early stage startups in particular may not need a four year business plan, but they need to start building out a model which will show how they can someday be profitable. At the very least, they need to be able to see the impact of a change in retention rates to their user growth.

Knowing When You Release Value

Johanna Rothman

Sometimes, teams have trouble releasing their work, showing the value of the work they’ve completed. There are many possible reasons for this release problem: The team doesn’t have sufficient working agreements about what “done” means.

Agile Transformation When Failure Is “Not” an Option

Johanna Rothman

One of my clients has many reasons for wanting an agile transformation. Their old products are at the end of their lives. They need agile approaches so they can get feedback from customers as they develop the new products. They need to deliver to their customers more often.

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Discussing Teamwork and Measures on Agile for Humans

Johanna Rothman

Ryan Ripley interviewed me on his podcast, Agile for Humans 83 about Create Your Successful Agile Project. We had a blast. I didn’t stint on my opinions or on my experience with agile teams.

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Agile Transformation: Introduction & Answering Why (Part1)

Johanna Rothman

Introduction to an Agile Transformation series… I’ve seen several agile transformation challenges. Since I want to address those challenges, this is a series of posts about agile transformation. The problems I’m planning to address are: Understanding why agile, why now.

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Minimums Article Posted

Johanna Rothman

We, as people who create products, often have big, audacious ideas. That’s great. The problem is this: How can you make minimum, bite-size stories that the team can deliver on a frequent basis? You might need these minimums: A minimum marketable feature. A minimum viable product.

The Top 5 Most Common Rapid Prototyping Mistakes

Speaker: Teresa Torres, Product Discovery Coach, Product Talk

When you think of "rapid prototyping", what comes to mind? If you work in digital products, you might think wireframes and mockups as a quick way to get user feedback on our designs. Rapid prototyping is quickly becoming ubiquitous, and with good reason. It is a powerful tool for thinking through different aspects of your product and answering questions to all sorts of design questions. They're also a great way to externalize what lessons you learn about your product along the way.

Agile Transformation: More Possible Organizational Measurements, Part 5

Johanna Rothman

I’ve been thinking more about possible measurements in an agile transformation journey. The first Possible Measurements post focuses on product throughput measurements. This post will focus on measurements you might see when the culture changes with an agile transformation.

Questions to Ask Before Estimating an Agile Program Posted

Johanna Rothman

My most recent article on is 3 Questions to Ask Before Estimating an Agile Program. In both Create Your Successful Agile Project and Agile and Lean Program Management , I talk about the reality of estimates in most settings.

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Three Ways to Think About Value

Johanna Rothman

I was on vacation last week, thinking about value. Depending on my role, I might think of value as: Delivery of a feature or story, assuming it’s the right level of quality and when I want it. Information about the story.

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Agile Approaches Require Management Cultural Change

Johanna Rothman

Ron Jeffries, Matt Barcomb, and several other people wrote an interesting thread about prescriptive and non-prescriptive approaches to team-based agile. The issues are nuanced and for me , don’t lend themselves to a Twitter discussion. Learning how to write short and coherently is a different post.). If you don’t want to read the entire thread, here is a summary: People often need help with their agile approach. Some people start with Scrum in its entirety.

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Maybe We Should Be Problem Managers Instead

Speaker: Steve Johnson, Founder and CEO, Under10 Playbook

Yet many product managers and most product owners are too busy with tactical issues that they never come close to addressing these issues. Is product management primarily supporting the tactics of other departments? Or is it a strategic role that is grounded in market facts? Personal experience with customers is the source of product management insights. Product managers need to look beyond UX to the entire customer experience through every step of the product life cycle.

Understanding Distance for a Geographically Distributed Team

Johanna Rothman

As Mark Kilby and I work through the images and text for the geographically distributed teams book, I wanted to clarify what collocated and distributed mean. Collocated teams sit near each other in space. However, not everyone agrees on what is “near.” ” Allen Curve.

Please Help A Pair Select a Title for a Geographically Distributed Agile Teams Book

Johanna Rothman

I’ve been a part of geographically distributed teams since the mid-80s. I’ve taught and written about agile distributed teams for several years. Now, I’m pair-writing a geographically distributed agile teams book with Mark Kilby. We’ve tweeted a little.

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Alternatives for Agile and Lean Roadmapping: Part 1, Think in Feature Sets

Johanna Rothman

Many teams and organizations try to create one-quarter roadmaps. Here are the problems I see: Teams spend a ton of time estimating what they might do and then they select what will fit into a quarter. They feel or are asked to commit to all that work.

Agile Transformation: Practice Change, Part 2

Johanna Rothman

Agile culture is about the ability to change. You need to know why you want to change, but once you know that, agile cultures promote change.). We (as agile teams and organizations) deliver something to get some feedback and learning.

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Interpreting your Qualitative & Quantitative Data through Storyboarding

Speaker: Tristan Kromer, Lean Coach, Kromatic

Storyboarding is a simple way to integrate Qualitative and Quantitative perspectives into a complete picture of how the user experience impacts the business model. Qualitative vs. Quantitative is an argument that shouldn't happen. Both are necessary to have a complete understanding of where the desirability of the product meets the viability of the business.

Organizations Are Not Families, Part 1

Johanna Rothman

I read Joe Berkowitz’s story in Fast Company, John Oliver Was Right: It’s Time To Confront The Dustin Hoffmans In Your Life. There’s a link to a video excerpt in which Hoffman discusses the idea that the people felt like a family. Mr. Berkowitz says this: There is no template for how to be a good man in the #MeToo era. I disagree. There is a template. My father called it being “professional.”

Pairing Improves Writing

Johanna Rothman

I’m writing a geographically distributed agile team book with Mark Kilby. We have a 30-minute timebox each morning to write. (We We take time off for holidays, vacations, travel, etc.). Because we’re writing together, we first had to understand what we wanted to write in this book.

Alternatives for Agile and Lean Roadmapping: Part 5, the Product Value Team

Johanna Rothman

If you need to plan more often than once a quarter, how do you know how to replan? Instead of incurring the time and cost when you bring everyone together, consider the Product Value Team. (In In past writing and presentations, I’ve called this the Product Owner Value Team.

Respect and Romance in Organizations, Part 5

Johanna Rothman

It took me a couple of days reviewing these posts to realize I’d missed one of the biggest problems in organizations especially when it comes to human interactions: romance. When I was single, I did date people who were my peers in my organizations. I still see office-romance occur with a fair amount of frequency. When the two people in question are peers, it’s often easier to manage a couple or a breakup, for the people and the management.

Product Analytics, Prioritization, and Decision-Making - What We Can Learn from Einstein and Drucker

Speaker: Nils Davis, Principal, NPD Associates

As a Product Manager, a big part of your job will always be to balance which features to develop, and which to scrap. Even when faced with many seemingly great requests, there is only so much time to develop what’s necessary. What makes matters more complex is that users doesn’t always know what they want or need (as Nils says “You can’t trust what users say”). And sometimes the most important feature for selling your product is one that customers never end up using.

Alternatives for Agile and Lean Roadmapping: Part 3, Flow-Based Roadmapping

Johanna Rothman

In Part 1 , I wrote about thinking in feature sets so everyone could see smaller chunks of work. (If If you can see them, you might be able to plan for smaller and deliver smaller.).

Agile Practice Guide Interview with Mike Griffiths

Johanna Rothman

Last year, I was part of a geographically distributed team who wrote the Agile Practice Guide. Shane Hastie interviewed us during Agile 2017. His interview (which was a ton of fun!) is here: Johanna Rothman and Mike Griffiths on the Agile Alliance/PMI Agile Practice Guide.

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Influential Agile Leader Early Bird Reg Ends May 1, 2018

Johanna Rothman

Are you looking to help support your team, management, or organization’s agile adoption? Do you feel as if you are part of the formal or informal team leading your agile transformation? You need what Gil Broza and I teach and facilitate at the Influential Agile Leader Workshop. Early registration ends May 1, less than two weeks from now. I wrote a number of posts about transformations: Introduction and Part 1: Introduction and Why. Agile Transformation: Practice Change, Part 2.

Alternatives for Agile and Lean Roadmapping: Part 4, Resilience, Prediction, & Feedback

Johanna Rothman

One of my clients was trying—valiantly—to make their quarterly planning sessions work. They prepared, getting the big hotel room. They had plenty of supplies. The planning even went well. However, within two weeks, their plan had no relation to reality.

How Agile Approaches Change Project, Program, and Product Measures

Speaker: Johanna Rothman, Management Consultant, Rothman Consulting Group

Before agile approaches took the world by storm, we used Gantt charts and defects to measure project and program progress. We had trouble measuring product progress until just before release—often too late to change anything. Join Johanna as she discusses how agile approaches change what we measure, and possible measures you might use in projects, programs, and to assess the product as the team(s) build it.

Agile Transformation: See Your System and Culture, Part 3

Johanna Rothman

If you read my scaling agile series , you can see that becoming an agile organization requires seeing your organization as a system with a culture. You can start with teams, move to programs and the product part of the organization. If you don’t also address the cultural problems of rewards, you won’t continue with your agile transformation. You know why you want the organization to use agile approaches. You’re practicing change. How can you see your system and your culture?

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Listen to the Agile Uprising Podcast with Me

Johanna Rothman

I had a great time recording with two of the guys from the Agile Uprising Podcast. See Create Your Successful Agile Project with Johanna Rothman. We discussed the book. I had an opportunity to rant and rave about many things: agile project managers (no, the term is not an oxymoron).

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Are You Data-Driven or Data-Informed?

Johanna Rothman

I delivered a webinar called Agile Metrics for Team and Product Progress last week, thanks to the nice folks at Innovation Roots. I had fun and so did many of the participants. One person gave me a new saying about metrics (at the end, during the Q&A): Are you data-driven or data-informed? It’s such a great saying. I told her I was stealing it. Here’s why. If you want predictions and targets, you use data to drive the decisions and work.

Creating an Environment of Teamwork

Johanna Rothman

A colleague asked my opinion on the various teambuilding activities she was considering for a new-to-agile team, to help them get to know each other and work together. All the activities she considered were simulations of various kinds. I suggested she reconsider the simulations and focus on the work to help people learn to work together. I’m not against teambuilding. However, I wonder if we overdo simulations, especially in new-to-agile teams where people don’t have the context.

Selling Data and Decisions to your Team

Speaker: Cait Porte, SVP Product and Customer Experience, Zmags

Gathering support for a product feature or enhancement is a critical skill for Product Managers. Talking to customers, working with key stakeholders in the business and convincing development that a feature is necessary can be a daunting task. Join Product Management expert Cait Porte as she covers how to sell your ideas internally by leveraging data to drive decision making.