Johanna Rothman

Measure Cycle Time, Not Velocity

Johanna Rothman

I'm not a fan of measuring velocity. Velocity is a point-in-time measure of capacity. That means that when things change for the team or in the code, the velocity often changes. See Velocity is Not Acceleration.). Instead, I like to measure cycle time.

Agile Approaches Can’t Save Impossible Projects: Fixed Cost, Scope, Date

Johanna Rothman

You've got an impossible project. You have no flexibility. The project is a fixed-price, fixed-scope, fixed-date project. And, you have a specific team to do the work. There are other impossible projects. Such as when you have a collection of people who multitask among several projects.).

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Where I Think “Agile” is Headed, Part 1: Do You Need an Agile Approach?

Johanna Rothman

I spoke at Agile 2019 last week. I had both a great time and a heart-rending realization. The great time was meeting and reconnecting with people. The heart-rending realization is our industry is in big, big trouble. Here are my thoughts and where I think the “agile” industry is headed. Problems I See with “Agile” Here's a summary of problems I saw last week: Too many people think “agile” will solve all their problems.

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What Decision Will You Make Based on This Data?

Johanna Rothman

Does your team have to keep two sets of “books”? You have an agile roadmap to see where you're headed. You have a smallish backlog of the near/upcoming work. You're delivering on a frequent basis.

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How to Monetize Data with Analytics

For software vendors looking to grow their customer base and increase revenue in a crowded marketplace, successfully and seamlessly integrating analytics into a SaaS product is critical. Learn how to monetize and productize data with embedded analytics.

Consider Product Options with Minimum Outcomes

Johanna Rothman

Do you have trouble fitting “all” of the necessary work into an iteration? Your managers might want to push you to do more. Or, the product owner thinks you can do more. Or, the team wants to do more (see Beating a Team's Goal.). Agile approaches are not about doing more.

Three Ways to Manage “Extra” Work in an Iteration

Johanna Rothman

Many of my clients use an iteration-based agile approach. And, they have these problems: They “push” too much into an iteration. They use velocity, not cycle time to estimate. They rarely finish everything before the iteration ends. They have to manage extra work—work they had not estimated—in the form of an emergency or production support. The business people (I'll use the PO as the representative) want to take advantage of some change in the market.

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When is “Agile Scaling” the Answer?

Johanna Rothman

At the Influential Agile Leader workshop earlier this year, I led a session about scaling and how you might think about it. I introduced the topic and explained that “scaling” might not be the answer.

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Thinking About “Beating” a Team’s Goal

Johanna Rothman

Shaun's comment on Measure Cycle Time, Not Velocity suggested a team might be better off measuring both cycle time and velocity. For two reasons: “Beating” the last sprint goal. Assisting the PO in a forecast of when things might be done. Let's examine these ideas. Clarify Story Points.

Where I Think “Agile” is Headed, Part 2: Where Does Management Fit?

Johanna Rothman

In Part 1 , I wrote about how “Agile” is not a silver bullet and is not right for every team and every product. This post is about how management fits into agile approaches. Too often, managers think “agile” is for others, specifically teams of people. Teams need to figure out how to manage their WIP, collaborate with the customer, and deliver something small every day. Team-based “agile” is not enough.

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A New Segmentation Model for Customer Onboarding

A great customer onboarding program is a proactive and meaningful way to make a lasting impact on customer engagement, retention, and expansion. In this eBook, Skilljar will show you a new framework for building a customer onboarding program, including how to segment users and drive long-term value and retention through education.

“Agile Coaching” Is Not the Goal

Johanna Rothman

I've met a number of agile coaches recently. They tell me they're hired as Scrum coaches or as Scrum Masters. They see their job as “better Scrum.” ” It would be lovely if that was their one and only job.

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Projects, Products, and the Project Portfolio: Part 2, Assess & Rank the Work

Johanna Rothman

Part 1 was about seeing the value in the various projects. I called the value stream a product so that people would think about who would use it and why. I suggested that we stop work on specific products when you have more products than teams.

Product Planning, Information Persistence, & Product Lifetime

Johanna Rothman

I've been thinking a lot about planning recently. Many of my clients want to create long-term plans, based on data with short validity, even for products in a high state of change.

One-on-Ones: Regular and Sacrosanct

Johanna Rothman

When Esther and I wrote Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management , we didn't really think one-on-ones were a secret. But, managers weren't conducting the one-on-ones regularly. The managers canceled for other “higher priority” meetings.

Design and Run Experiments That Actually Progress Your Business

Speaker: Nick Noreña, Innovation Coach and Advisor, Kromatic

Experimenting as a way to explore new products, services, and business models can help eliminate the guesswork involved in building something your customers actually value. That said, it's often quite tricky to take your vision and figure out the first experiment to run. How do you get started? How can you ensure your experiments are well-designed? Join Nick Noreña, educator, entrepreneur, and currently an Innovation Coach at Kromatic, as he walks us through how we can figure out the right experiments to run for any product or service, and in organizations of all sizes.

Product Roles, Part 6: Shorten Feedback Loops

Johanna Rothman

I started this series discussing the issue of the various product-based roles in an agile organization. I suggested a product value team because one person becomes a bottleneck. One person is unlikely to shepherd the strategy and the tactics for a product.

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.

Help Managers Visualize Their Problems

Johanna Rothman

I've been working with several managers at organizations large and small, who want to capitalize their software “earlier.” ” These managers have some strongly-held beliefs about the people: People are resources. Resources can multitask on several projects at a time.

Clean Your Backlogs

Johanna Rothman

I've been working at the intersection of the project portfolio and the product roadmaps. You can tell because of the various posts about information persistence.) Here's what I find when I work with my clients: They have years worth of projects in the project portfolio. They have years worth of ideas in various states of description in what they're calling product roadmaps. They have years worth of defects in the defect tracking system.

How to Design Strong Experiments

Speaker: Franziska Beeler, Head of Cloud Academy, and Tendayi Viki, Associate Partner, Strategyzer

When testing new business and product ideas, choosing the right experiment is just the beginning. After we have chosen our experiment, it’s important that we spend some time designing it well. Join Tendayi Viki, corporate innovation expert and associate partner at Strategyzer, and Franziska Beeler, Head of Cloud Academy at Strategyzer, as they walk us through the three key elements that help you design stronger experiments and come away with the evidence you need to advance your idea.

Projects, Products, and the Project Portfolio: Part 1, Organize the Work

Johanna Rothman

I've been working with some clients who are trying to find the magic way to slice and dice their project portfolios. Their organizations treat the software people (IT or Engineering) as a shared service. That means the software people “service” the rest of the organization.

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.”

Product Roles, Part 5: Component Teams to Create Slices

Johanna Rothman

As I've written these product role posts, a number of you have asked about how to use component teams. You might have a security team. Maybe a performance team. Regardless of my desire, you have component teams. You want a more agile approach to manage the interdependencies among the teams.

Successful Geographically Distributed Agile Teams Book Milestone

Johanna Rothman

I’ve been pair-writing a book with Mark Kilby , From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams: Collaborate to Deliver. We hit a big milestone today: We published the first complete draft today. We’ve been working on this book for a year.

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Walk a Mile in Your Customer's Shoes

Speaker: Steven Haines, Founder and CEO, Sequent Learning Networks

Product professionals use phrases like "voice of the customer," and "user experience" so often that it can be easy to lose sight of their actual meanings. How can we, as product professionals, learn to keep customers and users at the heart of our work? Join Steven Haines, globally recognized thought leader and author, as he guides us through a memorable journey demonstrating how you can walk a mile in their customer's shoes. He'll explore how, by developing true empathy for your users, you can ensure you're creating the features and products they actually want.

Announcement: Make the Most of Your One-on-Ones Workshop

Johanna Rothman

If you wondered why I've been so quiet here on the blog, it's because I've been managing my own product development. This announcement is that Esther Derby and I have teamed up to offer online workshops based on Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management.

Where I Think “Agile” is Headed, Part 3: What Is The Recipe, The Right Answer?

Johanna Rothman

I started this series asking where “Agile” was headed. Part 1 was about the 4 big problems I see. Part 2 was why we need managers. This part is about how people want a recipe, The Answer, for how to get better at “Agile.” ” Before we can address what an answer might be, your need to know your why for an agile approach. Why do you or your organization want to use an agile approach?

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Where I Think “Agile” is Headed, Part 4: What Does “Agile” Mean?

Johanna Rothman

I started this series asking where “Agile” was headed. (I I didn't like what I saw at the Agile 2019 conference.) Part 1 was about the 4 big problems I see. Part 2 was why we need managers. Part 3 was about how people want a recipe. This part is about what “Agile” or “agile” means. I understand that people want what they perceive as the value “Agile” will bring them.

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Why Managers Believe Multitasking Works: Long Decision Wait Times

Johanna Rothman

When I teach any sort of product/project/portfolio management, I ask, “Who believes multitasking works?” ” Always, at least several managers raise their hands. They believe multitasking works because they multitask all the time.

Get Better User Insights With Wasteless Validation

Speaker: Tim Herbig, Product Management Coach and Consultant

Product teams tend to get ahead of themselves by rushing from idea straight to building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). How can a product manager slow their team down and prevent them from wasting valuable resources? Join Tim Herbig, Product Management Coach and Consultant, as he introduces a new way of understanding MVPs and explores how you can approach validation without wasting the resources of your development team.

Tactical Ideas for Agile Budgeting, Part 1

Johanna Rothman

Too often, organizations want to budget for an entire year. The managers run around for two or three months in advance of that fiscal year, attempting to predict a ton of things: Estimates for not-well-defined projects or features, Capital equipment or tool needs, “Headcount” aka, people needed. Then, the organization doesn't finalize the budget until after the year starts.

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Minimum Requirements Documentation: A Matter of Context

Johanna Rothman

A colleague asked me about the kinds of documentation the team might need for their stories. He wanted to know what a large geographically distributed team might do. What was reasonable for the stories, the epics, and the roadmap? How little could they do for requirements documentation? I start with the pattern of Card, Conversation, Confirmation when I think about requirements and how much documentation.

Where I Think “Agile” is Headed, Part 5: Summary

Johanna Rothman

It's time to wrap this series. I started asking if you actually need an agile approach in Part 1 and noted the 4 big problems I see. Part 2 was why we need managers in an agile transformation. Part 3 was about how people want a recipe. Part 4 was about how “Agile” is meaningless and “agile” is an adjective that needs to be applied to something. I suggested various alternatives in the earlier posts and offered plenty of pointers to other readings.

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Designing an Organization for a Product Approach, Part 1

Johanna Rothman

If you’re thinking about an agile transformation, you already know about feature teams. You might even call them/use them as product teams. You might wonder about organizing all the work as product work. See Your Current Organization. Many organizations use functions to organize people.

How User Acceptance Testing Can Save You Time and Money

Speaker: J.B. Siegel, VP of Client Services, Seamgen

Before a new product or feature goes into development, you have to gauge whether it will be a worthwhile investment. But what’s the best way to do so - and how can you get honest insights from your end users? Join J.B. Siegel, VP of Client Services at Seamgen, as he explores how to use wireframes and clickable prototypes to validate your product. He’ll discuss how user testing allows you to really understand your users - and how to use the insights to inform your product strategy.