So you might be thinking hmm - HR or maybe that Agile PMO........ but no.

A friend of mine Soumen who has worked in the Valley for a while, expresses Product Management as the most dishonest department.

WTFake Product Management?!
Soumen's View

The Product Management function constantly proxies to hoodwink everyone. The only way to catch them at this is to dig deeper which often is impossible.

Product Management claims to be the proxy of Users to Business. Then the Product Management team turns around and claims to be the proxy of Business to Delivery.

I found his view interesting and agreeable! Why?

My experience

In my travels, I have found that most organizations don't practice real product management.

The majority of the teams are practicing "feature delivery" which is part of software project management.

😑
I worked for a few organizations where I struggle to get them to do actual product management or adopt the principles of product management. Any suggestions to transform end up in vain. 

What is required to stop this behavior?

Real product management.

Actual product management is tough.
It requires you to challenge the status quo.
You need to do this by disrupting the norms by grabbing the bull by the horns and turning it around.

BUT This is the hard stuff !!!!
It could get you fired! You have been warned.

Watch out for "Yes Man" Culture

Organizations that are deeply entrenched in "Yes Man" culture create a culture where you will find it impossible to say no!

But wait - you can definitely learn how to do this.
Last year I wrote a guide on this for Airfocus Product Learn where you can learn how to say No and when to say No.

Adopt disruptive tendencies

In addition to saying No, your team needs to be disruptive.
They need to experiment and learn through testing and failure.

However, there are 2 main roadblocks to disruption.

  • Boards of organizations normally do not want disruption. They want stability. They have shareholders, investors, etc who just want ROI.
  • Managers do not want disruption they want predictability. Their bonuses are tied to it.

Bonuses are paid on stability to managers & executives and not "leap of faith decisions".

Most of the people they hire are then order takers - including their CPOs.

This is why the type of organization and culture matters.

The type of organization which empowers people to make decisions at every level and gets things done with an outcome focus over output is the type of organization that avoids the feature trap. This is the organization that unlocks innovation and enables teams to hit moonshots.

Use the digital innovation maturity model to assess where your organization is.

Agile's limitation in all of this

Look folks Agile doesn't tell you to stop building. It sells itself as the method to unlock agility helping you deliver more.

The Key is to STOP 🛑 building!

Janna one of the co-founders of Mind The Product shared this post on LinkedIn which hits the spot.

Cat in a cardboard box?!

Stop building 💩


Let's accept this Most often than not we build 💩.

Why? Because we have been told that is how it's going to be sold, marketed etc. No one really needs it or we think they do so we build it.

The outcome, the end user is disappointed or looks for another product, or wants their money back. You get a negative review and your lifetime value of the customer gets severely impacted.

Essentially leading to a high cost of acquisition.

Not to mention, the technical cost which everyone forgets!
The cost of maintaining the code. ie TCO - total cost of ownership gets higher than the desired level.

This then pushes the organization into a cycle of building more stuff!
Why because you start to build more 💩 to see if it sells.

AKA - throw spaghetti on the wall strategy.

The cure to Agile problems - Stop AGILE, Start REAL Product Management

  • STOP Building 💩 | START Discovering | START Experimenting and Validating.
  • Delete the backlog.
  • Deprecate those features and products that add little to no value.
  • Offboard customers who cost you more to maintain and flexibility to change.
  • Identify your real ideal customer profile.
  • Build what matters.

This is product management.

Why get rid of Agile?

80% of Agile is Scrum, everything else is a variant of it.

Agile Scrum is a heavily administered "process" with a lot of baggage that costs a significant amount of $ and brings pretty much low outcomes financially making it a dead investment.

Eg: Waiting 2-4 weeks to deliver something that doesn't matter, spending hours in retros, daily scrums, showcases, etc, and gaining nothing.

the shiteration phenomenon 

What to do instead?

Change how you prioritize and conduct effective problem-solving.

1- Seize opportunities through problem discovery then solution discovery.

Distinguishing between problem discovery and solution discovery is key. Don't get stuck in solution discovery and dig a rabbit hole.

The urgency of seizing opportunities cannot be overstated.

Waiting to act can limit our ability to experiment and capitalize on potential breakthroughs.

Swift action is key to uncovering valuable insights.

Putting ideas into a backlog to then value them and prioritize means you have lost time to act on opportunities.

This kills innovation and experimentation culture.

Backlogs can inadvertently become a source of unnecessary expenses, akin to sunk costs. Without proper validation through experimentation, they often default to the mentality of "we'll build it next sprint," potentially resulting in wasteful endeavors.


2- Stop using Backlogs. Backlogs are typically not the best place to house ideas.

Backlogs tend to focus on solutions rather than delving deep into the underlying problems we're trying to solve. Scrum helps facilitate that nonsense instead of challenging it.

SCRUM ENFORCES YES MAN CULTURE.

Scrum also gave power to the HIPPOs to appoint a proxy that looks like they have no power but they have the authority to ruin your life.

We call this role the Product "Owner". 🤣 (The person who owns nothing!!!)

And then of course there is another glorious administrative master called the Scrum Master who mediates and then is secretly pushing the engineering team to their demise.



Soon they say we are doing XP not Scrum, XP is the problem!

⚠️
This is a member only article, to read the full article please sign in or subscribe today for free.

This comic strip is from Dilbert back in 2003...seems familiar, doesn't it?



Instead, ideas should be fostered and explored to truly understand the essence of the problem, enabling us to arrive at more effective and innovative solutions.

This should be done quickly not as the image below.

The backlog

3- Have a business and product strategy and evolve it - continuously.

Let's remember that haphazardly throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks is not a reliable problem-solving strategy.

Instead, let's focus on addressing the root issues with a more intentional and efficient approach.

I invite you to join me in exploring alternative methodologies that prioritize effectively problem discovery and solution development.

Together, we can create a more streamlined and impactful way of approaching complex challenges.

I wrote more about building product discovery process for strategy in this article.

In the future articles, I intend to share more about business and product strategy.

Also be sure to check out the product strategy section.


If you’re finding this blog valuable, consider sharing it with friends, or if forwarded this, subscribe if you haven’t already!

Table of Contents
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Product Management 101.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Product Management 101.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.